Microsoft pleads ignorance on 'one interweb per child' pork barrel

Schools minister said what now?


Microsoft says it doesn't know anything about the government's plan to deliver home broadband to every child in the country, despite claims from the schools minister that he is putting pressure on it to drop prices.

Contacted by the Reg following Jim Knight's interview in the Guardian's political pages on Friday, a Microsoft spokeswoman said it doesn't know enough about any such plan to make a comment.

The firm said it "has heard that the Department for Schools, Children and Families is making some kind of announcement [this week], though we don't know what about."

It's thought more details may be forthcoming when Jim Knight gives a speech at the BETT education technology trade show in London this week.

"Obviously you need to make [broadband for schoolchildren] affordable, you need to make that universal otherwise you just advantage those who can afford it," he said on Friday.

Knight called on Microsoft and other vendors to chip in with parents and the government to bankroll home internet access for the million-plus children who don't have it. BT has "keenly welcomed" the plan, but said it can't give any details on talks as it is "very early days".

Microsoft's account suggests even that may be an overstatement.

As well as universal net links, the government plans include a system of "real time reporting", to let parents to supervise their children's education online.

In related news today, the Times reports that the government's education IT purchasing agency BECTA reckons teachers are already struggling with installed technology.

"We are achieving nothing like the impact that we should from this technology," chairman Andrew Pinder said. "We spend more than other countries but not enough schools are using technology effectively." ®


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