SCHOOLS across the region are set to benefit from a new deal that has been reached with the IT giant Microsoft.
Under a new three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), starting on 1 January, all schools in the UK will be able to take advantage of improved discounts and better licensing terms across a wide range of Microsoft's academic software.
Under this new agreement, schools will be able to use more of their budgets on frontline teaching rather than back office administration, with estimated total savings of around £10 million.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said: "I am delighted that we have been able to reach this new agreement with Microsoft.
"Schools spend a significant amount on software licensing. Through this new agreement we can make sure more money goes on front line teaching."
Following extensive negotiations with Microsoft, led by Government Procurement Service (GPS) with the Department for Education, the new agreement builds on an existing arrangement that has operated with Microsoft since 2004. It secures improved benefits based on the entire UK schools' software spend with Microsoft, but involves no financial or contractual commitment for schools or the Department for Education.
As well as offering better value for money for both new and existing users, schools will now have more flexibility in the way they license Microsoft software. They will also be able to make more cost-effective choices for using alternative and free to use software.