We were talking about where the responsibility sits for ensuring that software installed on school's computers is properly licensed. And what surprised me was when he told me about the situation with computers provided under the 'Computers for Pupils' (CfP) scheme - the ones that schools allocate to students and give them to take home. Because they are still owned by the school, not the pupil, apparently the school is responsible for proper licensing of these computers, even once they've been handed over to pupils. I found this difficult to believe, but apparently it's no different to employees' computers provided by an employer - for example, your staff laptops. So if you're students go installing additional software, and it's not properly licensed, you're held accountable!
Tim quoted Becta's words to me: "As the device is actually owned by the school the licence issues are the responsibility of the school. Our advice to schools is that they have a stringent acceptable use policy that should contain policy with regards downloading software onto a device owned by the school."
We were talking about this as Tim was telling me about Parago - a web-based software suite which allows you to monitor hardware and software changes to a PC, whether they are in school or at home. I don't profess to understand how the software works - it sounded too good to be true, until I saw it. It has been developed in conjunction with schools, who've provided feedback on what features they want to see in it.
But it isn't just designed to track down illicit software - it can be used to track any assets (like whiteboards, projectors etc) - and the software tracking feature can also be used to ensure that software installed on a school PC is appropriate - which might come in handy with both student and staff laptops!
You can find out more about the software on the IT Vision website, which includes case studies of both primary and secondary schools.