The demise of Becta

Becta has been closed as part of the new government’s plan to cut spending. The closure of the schools technology agency will save an estimated £80m from the education budget.

In response, chairman Graham Badman, and chief executive Stephen Crowne, said: “Naturally we are very disappointed at the government’s decision. Becta is a very effective organisation with an international reputation, delivering valuable services to schools, colleges and children. Our procurement arrangements save the schools and colleges many times more than Becta costs to run. Our Home Access programme will give laptops and broadband to over 200,000 of the poorest children.”

About 240 jobs are expected to be lost, and Graham and Stephen promised “an orderly and fair process for staff”. Other priorities are that “as far as possible schools, colleges and children continue to benefit from the savings and support that Becta has provided. We will be talking to Government Departments and our other stakeholders including the industry about this.”

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, Chris Keates, general secretary of the teaching union, NASUWT, said scrapping Becta represents a false economy marked by an "overriding principle of political ideology" rather than a genuine attempt to receive value for money. "Schools often go for the most expensive systems, and they can fall prey to the slick salesmanship the big companies can afford. They often get stuck with systems that are not fit for purpose, difficult to integrate with other systems, and difficult and expensive to maintain,” he said.