Luton aims for an A in school tech with £50m deal

Top of the class

Top of the class

Luton Borough Council has signed a £50m deal that will bring state-of-the-art IT to its schools over the next decade.

As part of the Building Schools for the Future programme (BSF) Civica will provide managed services and IT support for 11 schools in the borough, including a centralised datacentre to support an improved school network.

Speaking to silicon.com, education transformation and ICT advisor for Luton's Building Schools for the Future programme, David Crick, said: "What we will have from day one is a central datacentre which will serve all of our high schools. Civica will manage that with links out to all of the schools."

Under the deal, schoolchildren will also have access to an upgraded managed learning environment - a system that contains information such as slides used in class and information for further reading, as well as providing teachers with access to school records.

The upgrade will give teachers access to the StudyWith system, which teachers can use to plan lessons and content they use in class.

Crick described the learning environment as "one of the most important aspects" of the deal.

"The key for us is that the ICT then becomes completely and utterly reliable both in terms of the devices the students are using and in terms of the content that's being delivered via those devices," he told silicon.com.

The upgrade will be live for the start of the 2009/10 academic year and there are also plans to integrate it into local libraries, theatres and adult education and youth facilities.

Crick said Civica will also provide schools with hardware ranging from interactive whiteboards, mobile PDAs, laptops and high-end desktops, including Apple Macs.

The new kit will be phased in as and when the schools are refurbished or rebuilt over the next five years.

The deal is part of the £270m QED Wates consortium contract which will see the refurbishment or rebuilding of 13 schools. Two of these are academy-style schools that are currently outside the Civica part of the deal.

Debbie Jones, director of children learning for the council, said in a statement the new facilities and ICT will be "a fundamental tool to realise our vision of transforming the lives and opportunities for children and young people in Luton".

The BSF programme is the government's national schools investment programme which is managed by Partnerships for Schools on behalf of the Department for Children, Schools and Families.