Posted: Mon Jul 13, 2009 3:00 am Post subject: UK ICT Curriculum Requirements
In 2005/6 I implemented a Linux-based education system at a UK school, where OpenOffice was a key component. Shortly afterward, BECTA, who set the UK National Curriculum requirements were persuaded by Microsoft to include key MS Office features into the required curriculum (such as MS Wizards).
As a consequence of the BECTA decision the system we installed could no longer be used to teach the required elements for ICT and the school was forced to revert a substantial part of their IT system back to Microsoft at considerable cost) in order to be able to continue to teach ICT GCSE & A level qualifications.
The result of this BECTA decision is that all UK schools MUST have Microsoft Office installed in order to be able to teach basic core subjects. It means that every UK pupil is brought into the workplace only knowing Microsoft products and how they function and it keeps the future working population locked into Microsoft for the long term.
Neither NeoOffice nor OpenOffice currently have the BECTA required features (to the best of my knowledge). Thus any UK school cannot use these products in its curriculum as they do not meet the BECTA standards.
Is there anyone in the team knows what these BECTA requirements are and can detail the required features so that NeoOffice can be used in UK schools to teach the BECTA ICT curriculum?
This is NOT a political requirement - that decision was made several years ago. This query is about REAL functional requirements that are currently LEGALLY required and prevent NeoOffice and OpenOffice being fully deployed and used in UK schools. This is an issue about marketing and the survivability of the NeoOffice/OpenOffice projects!
The question is quite simple. BECTA have set the UK ICT curriculum standards that state pupil must be able to use 'X, Y & Z' functions of a word processor, spreadsheet, database, etc. Because those functions are expressed in terms of MS Office and DO NOT EXIST in NeoOffice or OpenOffice - when will those features and functions be available?
As a businessman, I want to deploy NeoOffice but can't because pupils (and future ICT decision makers) are leaving education versed in the Microsoft way of using Office products. It therefore means that unless NeoOffice and OpenOffice match the functions expected by next generation (e.g those set by the BECTA standards) neither product will make significant gains in deployment against Microsoft. Without these features, it makes it very difficult for people like me to sell solutions based on NeoOffice/OpenOffice as they are rejected at the first handle as failing to meet the required technical standards.
Therefore, has anyone made a list of these standards requirements, identified which which functions are missing & where is the timetable that shows when these functions will be available in NeoOffice/OpenOffice?
The functionality of NeoOffice is more or less entirely dependent on the functionality of OpenOffice, on whose code it is based, NeoOffice being The Better Mac Port of OpenOffice .
It's obviously an important issue inasmuch as the educational world (with its gradually tightening budgets) could do with rescuing from its financial serfdom to Microsoft (with at the same time all due praise going to MS for creating the software functionality concept that OpenOffice is emulating) - but the role of the NeoOffice developers (who are themselves working on a shoestring budget) is to provide the best possible OSX version of OpenOffice. So you need to be addressing these issues with the OpenOffice developers, not with the NeoOffice developers, if you want results on this one, I'm afraid. Hence Macrat's link above.
We'd all be very interested to hear how things go, so do please report any outcomes here if you have time.
Joined: Jul 05, 2005 Posts: 640 Location: North West England
Posted: Tue Jul 14, 2009 3:02 am Post subject:
The BECTA standards seem to be published on their website. In general they appear to be reasonably friendly to open document formats and so on. There is nothing that I have seen in their specifications which would obviously mandate the use of MS Office/Word.
Are you able to make further enquiries with those who informed you that
BECTA have set the UK ICT curriculum standards that state pupil must be able to use 'X, Y & Z' functions of a word processor, spreadsheet, database, etc. Because those functions are expressed in terms of MS Office and DO NOT EXIST in NeoOffice or OpenOffice...
so that they can point you to the specific requirements? I wonder if it isn't the case that an educational supplier, for example, has presented them with a case showing how MS software meets certain ICT requirements, and that the supplier hasn't any interest in showing how Open/NeoOffice might fulfil those requirements, and the school lacks the expertise.
ISTM that if BECTA is setting requirements for the ICT curriculum then those requirements ought to be publicly available somewhere, and that the person who is informing you about them ought to be able to point you to the document in which they are set out.
If a public body is really setting curriculum requirements that put the education in hock to MS, that ought to be a matter of public concern - maybe your MP would be interested.
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