How do your governors like it when you ask for more money for IT?

Yes, I thought so!

One of the frustrations for those leading ICT developments in schools is the reaction that they get every time that they need to invest more in their ICT. It is sometimes frustrating to have to convince others that keeping up-to-date with technology is important.

One of the ways to manage this is to license your software resources intelligently. With Microsoft's Academic licensing schemes, you can choose to buy a perpetual licence, or an annual subscription licence.

  • With the Perpetual option you pay a one-off fee and receive a licence to use a specific version of the software forever. The recommended scheme for education is the Select Licence, which offers the largest savings in return for an agreed volume of licence purchases. (Although there are a minimum number of licences, even small schools can qualify for the Select Licence by purchasing through their local authority agreement.) So if you bought Office 2003 using this scheme, you'll always have a licence to run that specific version. But when a new version comes out, you need to buy a new licence for the new version.

  • With the Subscription option you pay a lower annual fee and receive an annual licence to run software, with the right to upgrade to new releases. At the end of each subscription period, you can either renew, pay to convert your licences to perpetual ones, or stop using the software. So if you subscribed last year, you were licensed then for Office 2003, and were automatically licensed to upgrade to Office 2007 with no additional cost as soon as it was released.

(Now, the downside of this is that with the subscription, you have to continue paying your subscription or either stop using the software or pay to convert the licences to perpetual ones, but on the upside you pay a lower annual cost, and can upgrade automatically. You can compare the pro's and con's on this web page. )

What made me think about this all again is listening to Alan Richards at Long Eaton School talk in this video, where he says "..and I don't have to go back to governors to every time Microsoft release a new product.". It's a bit like funding the school library - if your school subscribes to a county library service to supplement your own stock, it's regarded as a basic service, and paid every year. Nobody ever goes back and says "What, you want more books this year?". Instead the library service turn over the stock in conjunction with the librarian, and you pay an annual subscription. Of course, if you don't pay, you lose your books. But nobody ever debates the cost of the service, because it's in the budget on day one.

Whereas, when you come along asking for more ICT money every year....the story can be quite different.

Around a third secondary use subscription schemes for their software, so perhaps it's something to consider? There's lots more info on our website to help decide, and understand the implications.

Comments (2)

  1. m.pollitt says:

    A subscription licence is something we are considering very strongly as we look to future proof our ICTAC strategy. Our only concern is the hardware upgrade we will need to implement Vista – we are looking at having to replace over 300 PC’s and laptops in the next two years which will mean lower licence costs are essential.

    Are there any bulk savings on licences that clusters of schools could take advantage of?

  2. Ray Fleming says:

    In a nutshell "yes", but you’ll need to work with somebody to make it happen.

    – As a starting point, take a look at the licensing comparison info on our main website (

    – There are some local authorities which aggregate their purchases of a number of schools into a single School Agreement, which can reduce the cost for all of the schools within the agreement. The best way to find out if this happens is to talk to the ICT team in your authority, or to talk with your Microsoft partner – hopefully, you’ll be buying from what we call an EdLAR (Education Large Account Reseller), as they offer the most licensing options for education – this applies to any school, even small primary schools that only buy a few licences. The link above will also take you to a list of Education Licence Resellers.

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