Open source groups ally to target schools

Brief: Free software could appear in more UK schools now that Schoolforge-UK and the Open Source Consortium have teamed up

UK educationists have partnered with the Open Source Consortium (OSC) in a bid to push free and open source software into schools.

As a result of the affiliation, Schoolforge-UK will head the Education Working Group of the OSC, a European organisation which says it represents the open source business community in the UK.

"There is a substantive interest in open source technology in UK education and this is reflected in the growing number of schools actively using [it]," said John Ingleby, secretary of Schoolforge-UK. "However, this growth needs professional and independent support and together we can provide this. Ultimately, the main beneficiaries will be the schools and colleges that we help."

Schoolforge-UK — which pushes for the wider use of free and open source software in education — said it would share information with the OSC through the alliance, and that both organisations would benefit from better representation in industry and government.

Mark Taylor, an executive director of the OSC, said he was pleased by the partnership. "Schoolforge-UK is widely respected for its work as a repository. The open source community are very keen to help them achieve their goals," said Taylor.

A report due out after the general election is expected to highlight that open source software could save schools "significant" amounts of money through lower support, hardware and software costs.