IT use in schools is at a record level, according to the latest report from The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), and the channel will be essential in supporting school systems with services in the future.
This month's Ofsted report also recommended that additional funding should be earmarked for IT resources in schools, and suggested authorities should ensure that "adequate technical support is included as an essential element of planning for IT, and that this is central to the school's IT strategy".
Last year the Department of Education and Skills gave government agency the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) a role in defining IT strategies in education.
Last month Becta's executive director of education technology, Stephen Lucey, told CRN that the organisation will increase the work it does with the channel.
Shaun Frohlich, executive chairman at VAR Teksys, said Becta's new role will help the channel sell into the education sector. "By and large I am a Becta fan, and despite additional overheads it helps schools buy IT in a consistent way," he said.
Frohlich added that support is essential for schools, and said education accounts for about a third of Teksys's business.
"It is growing at a pleasing rate, with a 20 per cent increase this year compared with a 10 per cent increase in our general business," he said.
"It is often slow to take off because it is dependent on government spending plans."
However, in its Vertical Markets survey analyst firm IDC found that only a fifth of education respondents in western Europe intend to increase their IT budgets in 2004, with more than half keeping them unchanged and 27 per cent implementing cuts.
But Roland Westlake, managing director of specialist education reseller LiNKS, was bullish about the future.
"There is still plenty of room for growth because equipment goes out of date and has to be replaced," he said.
"Support is important but more for primary schools than secondary schools."
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