Marlow, UK, 23 May 2013 – Microsoft has awarded Softcat ‘supplier status’ on its innovative ‘Shape the Future’ (STF) programme. Following months of research and planning, Softcat is now able to implement Microsoft’s scheme in further education colleges within England and Wales¹. Softcat is working closely with Intel and OEM partners Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung and Toshiba to produce STF products at a significantly reduced price, for the UK’s first initiative of its kind to improve access to IT provision in the further education sector.
Softcat will actively promote the scheme to the further education¹ sector with the help of a dedicated, content rich information and transaction portal built for each participating college. It will also provide an innovative ‘marketing toolkit’ that will mitigate the ‘heavy lift or burden’ typically experienced by colleges engaging their students in 1:1 access schemes.
It is anticipated that colleges and students will warmly welcome the Shape the Future programme. Microsoft has significantly reduced the price of the Windows 8 Professional operating system and MS Office 2013 Professional suite on devices supplied by Softcat to colleges participating in the scheme. To be eligible to join the scheme, colleges will need to agree to part-fund their students’ purchases by a minimum of 50% of purchase price. Any college student aged between 14 and 19 may be included in the scheme, benefiting from the greatly reduced initial purchase price, and the ability to pay affordably via Softcat’s ‘Shape the Future’ portal, in a series of instalments if necessary.
Participating colleges will also benefit from reinvestment funding provided by Microsoft to fund a selection of third party ‘value added services’, which include teacher training and CPD courses.
Nick Berry, Softcat’s education business development manager, said: “This is a highly exciting and laudable project for Softcat to be so instrumental in delivering; it provides colleges with an affordable and easy way to deliver 1:1 programmes for both students and staff, enabling anytime, anywhere learning.”
He added, “Softcat’s Education team are now gearing-up for the anticipated interest and demand for schemes amongst further education colleges currently thinking through their plans for equipping the new year’s intake – helping to make a real difference for 1:1 learning opportunities throughout the colleges of England and Wales.”
Steve Beswick, Director of Education for Microsoft in the UK, said “Making our top quality software available in a more cost effective way to students in further education is a fundamental part of Microsoft’s ‘Shape The Future’ initiative. By improving access to technology in this way, we know that we are able to provide a bridge between learning and the world of work, which is ultimately positive for the UK’s economic recovery.
“Providing better, one to one computing experiences for young people has been shown to improve their confidence, and ultimately their employability. At a time of high youth unemployment, we think that it is more important than ever that we invest in our young people, and this agreement with Softcat will allow us to continue to do this. It also directly supports Microsoft’s ‘Get On’ flagship campaign that aims to help 300,000 young people in Britain to get inspired, get skilled and get a job. I know that this announcement will go some way to help us achieve those aims.”
“Teaching and learning is at the heart of Intel’s focus on education,” says Scott Mordue, Marketing Manager at Intel. “Enabling teachers to deliver highly engaging subjects using new and innovative technologies is very exciting. Students respond to various teaching methods, and the variety of devices on offer from Softcat will see students interacting with computing devices through touch, cameras, speech recognition and various other sensors built into the computing devices. Tablets are very portable devices, giving students and teachers the opportunity to bring the class outside of the classroom. Ultrabooks offer a highly responsive and mobile experience and deliver great performance, allowing students and teachers the flexibility to create, as well as consume, content. This collaboration between Softcat, Microsoft and Intel will see many schools and colleges in the UK advance very quickly as they adopt these new devices coming on to the market.”
¹ Focusing on 14 to 19 year old students
Softcat (www.softcat.com) is a leading provider of software licensing, hardware, security and related IT services. Softcat, founded in 1993 by chairman and majority shareholder Peter Kelly, remains privately owned and currently employs more than 500 people. It achieved a turnover in excess of £307 million in its last financial year and has been profitable since inception, resulting in a strong balance sheet and very firm financial foundations.
The company sells and supports products and solutions from all the world's leading IT companies. On all its portfolio products and solutions it offers a full range of services, including advice and guidance, technical design, product sourcing, implementation, support and project management. It enjoys a trading relationship with over 5,000 longstanding customers, predominantly from the UK corporate sector but also including large enterprises, small businesses and public sector organisations.
As an organisation Softcat cares passionately about two things – outstanding employee satisfaction and world class customer service. It believes the former drives the latter.
About Microsoft’s ‘Shape the Future’
Through creative Public-Private Partnerships, Microsoft and their partners are helping governments achieve their broad scale digital access goals – from education reform to creating a 21st century workforce.
To help address these goals, Microsoft has launched a global programme, ‘Shape the Future’, which aims to bring everyone online and equip them with the skills and confidence needed to succeed in and enhance the global competitiveness of the UK. Shape the Future is directly targeted at students from an educational perspective, and it helps schools and colleges to embrace 1:1 computer access, enhancing their teaching and learning strategies. On a practical basis it simply helps to make 1:1 computing more affordable, and provides assistance for the roll-out and adoption of 1:1 schemes.
Intel is helping to transform the lives of millions worldwide through education, technology, and programs that challenge and inspire. Intel’s model of education transformation is a systemic approach that supports best practices for achieving reform, and is based on educational research. The model combines advocacy for policy reform, curriculum standards and assessment, sustained professional development, information and communications technology, funding, leadership, and support of research and evaluation, to help schools create an effective approach to a more personalized 21st century education.