Tom Watson MPThe schools open source community has welcomed the announcement by minister for digital engagement Tom Watson MP (left) of a change in ICT policy for the public sector to create a “level playing field” for open source.

Miles Berry, who runs the Open Source Schools website, funded by Becta, described the move as “a very positive step along the way to allowing the public sector to make the most of the adaptability and savings that open source offers”. “Tom Watson clearly has a lot of respect for open source development, and it's heartening that the minister for digital engagement recognises its contribution to a culture of innovation. I'm sure that, when judged fairly on the basis of value for money, open source solutions will stand up very favourably against proprietary alternatives, especially when the additional flexibility they offer is factored in.”

By Bill Hicks

Sam PeterGoogle's Sam PeterMore evidence of Google’s  advances into the UK education system came today as three high-profile academic institutions went public with their reasons for opting for the search giant’s version of 'cloud computing' – that is, the Google Apps EDU package, providing email plus collaborative applications including document sharing, calendars and site-building.

Speaking at Google’s London HQ, managers from the University of Westminster, London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and the Royal College of Art (RCA) each cited similar motives for ditching their in-house email systems and plugging into Google’s  cloud model.

Miles BerryMiles Berry

To describe Miles Berry as a man on a mission could be an understatement. Because there are multiple missions. He's one of the most connected educationalists you are likely to meet. And that's just as well because he combines his full-time job as head of a prep school with, among other things, editing the important new Open Source Schools website.

Open Source Schools, supported by Becta and linked to its first initiative in this area, has got off to an impressive start with an eclectic mix of news, curriculum support, case studies of best and next practice, software directory, security advice, links and forums - in effect a nascent community for open source in UK education. And it's already generating the hits.

Lewis BronzeLewis Bronze

Espresso Education, the online multimedia curriculum service that most UK primary schools subscribe to, is seeking new development capital to attract fresh funding for Espresso's  continued push into secondary schools and international markets (it already provides a service for Swedish schools,).

Chief executive Lewis Bronze, the former BBC Blue Peter editor who co-founded the company, is upbeat about the move: “This is a highly positive development in the company’s evolution and I am fully committed to driving it forward, and key to that is getting the right partner. We have a unique service and we want to take the company to more places around the world.”

Squirrel

By Maureen McTaggart

I might be petrified of squirrels, especially the grey one that keeps me from my front door while it stashes food in the plant pot (unlike the red squirrel, left, by Chris Weston), but even in London N1 I am mesmerised by the antics of the local wildlife and tempted to reach for a camera. And that's exactly what young photographers in schools and community centres will be encouraged to do for the forthcoming British Wildlife Photography Awards .

There's time to work some activities into lessons or a school visit as they won't be launched until April 2 (check the website). The awards are open to photographers of all nationalities (so long as the pictures are of British wildlife) and include two under-17 categories to persuade young people, schools and community youth groups to take part.