08 September 2005 | Anusha Bradley
Schools are not getting value for money for their yearly £180 million spend on administration systems, according to a government agency.
The British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta), which supports schools' strategic IT development, has recommended an overhaul of the procurement process and the introduction of a supplier accreditation system. One industry analyst estimated the approach could save £72 million a year.
Under the current system, staff use management information systems (MIS) to track data such as pupil grades and attendance.
But in School Management Information Systems and Value for Money, published last month, Becta says lack of choice and competition are "considerable impediments" to value for money.
Capita Education Services dominates 80 per cent of the market, and the report claims many of its systems are incompatible with other suppliers' products. It also claims that Capita has increased licensing fees by 300 per cent in the past three years.
A Capita Group spokeswoman said the report contained a number of "significant inaccuracies", and added that licensing fees have increased by 66 per cent in the past three years.
"We fully support greater interoperability of these systems and we are keen to work with Becta and the Department for Education and Skills to identify the most cost-effective route forward," she added.