You may remember that in January, I wrote about the DCSF’s Home Access Programme – providing free home computers for students from disadvantaged families - and reinforcing to all families the importance of access to an Internet-connected computer to support learning. Just in case you missed , here’s the three articles to read – the basics, the suppliers, and the Microsoft software package. Well, we’re now into the pilot phase – with children in Oldham and Suffolk starting to receive their computers through the scheme.
The BBC NorthWest film crew followed Jim Knight to Oldham earlier this week, and then all the way to Evan’s house. It must have been a little surreal for the family – sitting in your lounge with the Schools Minister and a TV crew. You can see 10-year old Evan’s interview, with his mum, on their website.
Anyway, the scheme’s underway as a pilot, and parents are starting to buy computers. They do this by applying for a grant, which arrives in the form of a single-use debit card they can go and spend with one of the 6 approved suppliers.
The strange thing is that, even though the cheapest computers cost £600, they don’t have Office 2007 on them. Even though we’d been working with the Ministerial Task Force for 18 months, and even though we’d offered our Home Learning Package at a special price (which included Office 2007 Ultimate Edition, plus a range of other learning and family safety resources). In what seems like an even more bizarre twist, I don’t think that the suppliers are allowed to offer it as a pre-installed upgrade – instead, the families have to buy it and install it separately.
To be honest, this doesn’t make sense to me. The scheme is aimed at families getting their first computer, and the more that’s pre-installed and ready to go, the better. And if their local school is using MS Office, surely it would make sense to offer them the option to have the same software on their home computer. I do understand the decision not to put it onto every computer, but to not even offer it as a pre-installed option?
Anyway, the cheapest solution for these parents (and for some of your students too?) is that there are a pair of Microsoft partners who run online shops which sell student licences of Office at Academic prices – ie less than you’d normally pay for a copy of Office 2007 if you buy it in a shop.
Office Standard from £35
Office Standard from £35
You simply order from the site, and they’ll send you the DVD to install, along with the licence key. And you’re off…