A pilot to provide every child in England with access to a computer and the internet at home is due to kick off next month, with five channel players driving the initiative.
Launched in September by prime minister Gordon Brown, the £300m Home Access scheme, which forms part of Becta’s Next Generation Learning campaign, will be piloted in Oldham and Suffolk, before a country-wide rollout in the autumn.
Following a stringent tender process, Becta picked Centerprise International, Positive IT Solutions, RM Education, Stone Computers and XMA as its approved suppliers for the pilot.
A Becta representative told CRN: “It really was a tough accreditation process and the five companies we selected did incredibly well.”
Eligible children from families on income support or jobseekers’ allowance can apply for a grant, and will be issued with a voucher to spend on an internet and PC package from the supplier of their choice.
Stone Computers is working with Orange and security vendor intY for the pilot, and will be drumming up support from schools in the pilot area with a special tour bus.
Keith Collins, commercial director at Stone Computers, said: “This is a massive opportunity and we are delighted to be selected for it. We have a lot of experience in this field and have the capabilities to deliver what the pupils need.”
XMA is also feeling confident. Ash Merchant, commercial director, said: “With our history and credibility in the education market, we look forward to making the scheme a success working with Becta.”
RM Education will be working with retailer Comet to tempt new customers. Andy Johnston, commercial marketing manager at RM, said: “There are between 17,000 to 20,000 families in the UK who do not have internet access at home, so it is a significant opportunity.”
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