So here we are the very last part of the series of Top 10 ICT Money Saving Tips for schools, based on my BETT 2010 presentation.  It’s taken me a while to get all of these written down, because although I know the story behind each of these money saving tips, to actually structure it in a way that makes sense on the web takes longer than telling it as a 20-minute story at BETT. But hopefully it has all made sense so far. So on to the very last one.

My last bit of advice is to make sure that you’re buying our software in the most cost effective way, by using the right licensing scheme. We have lots of different ones, and possibly the worse thing to do is to walk into your nearest software shop to buy software off the shelf. You’re likely to pay too much for it, simply because most places can’t or don’t want to supply the Academic licences – which is the absolute cheapest way for a school to buy. So here’s my handy step-by-step guide to make sure you’re getting the best deal

Subscription Licences

This is easy - if you buy your software under subscription, then that means you should be buying a School Agreement, or using the SESP pilot programme. More on this here. The upside of subscription is that it is normally the lowest cost upfront, but you do have to pay an annual subscription fee.

Perpetual Licences

This is where you buy the software licence once, and you can use it forever

Of course, there’s small print, eg sometimes the licence is linked to the specific computer, other times you can transfer it to a replacement computer in school. But normally it’s forever (hey, that must be why it’s called perpetual Smile)

We have two main Academic perpetual licence schemes – Select and Open.

It is always cheaper to buy a SELECT licence, so it’s worth exploring it…

  • Select Licence
    This is normally the best deal of these two types, but there's a catch to be aware of (wouldn't you know it!). Select licences are designed for customers who normally buy lots of software - typically people with 250 PCs or more. In the rest of the world this isn't much of a problem, because local or central governments buy in bulk, on behalf of schools. But here in the UK, each school has complete choice - so you mostly buy individually. Secondary schools are normally large enough to buy Select licences, and most do. But for primary schools, it is normally difficult to reach the minimum purchasing quantities, so what you should do is identify whether you are able to join up into somebody else's Select agreement. For example, if your local authority education team have one (what's called a Master Select Agreement), which you can then buy through (but make sure it is the Academic licence they buy, not a normal government licence, which costs more). This could save you quite a bit of money.
    There are other organisations that have these master agreements, like the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT), so if you're an affiliated member, you can buy through their agreement.

  • Open Licence
    This scheme is normally more expensive than Select, but is handy if you want to just buy a single bit of software quickly, with a copy of the disks etc, and you don't have a Select agreement already in place. For example, if one member of staff needs a copy of Microsoft Project to help plan the new Sports Hall, and you need it now...


Take a look at our main Education website for more information on the Select licensing scheme

Our Education Licensing Partners

While we’re here, let me also explain the different types of partners you can buy Academic licences from

  • Education Large Account Resellers (or EdLARs)
    Stop. Just before you think "I'm not a large account" and skip this bit, read on!
    These partners are our largest education partners, and they can sell you any of our Academic licence types. We call them "Large Account Resellers" because they are our largest resellers, not because you have to be "large account" to buy from them. So even the smallest primary school sh/could get a quote from them!

  • Authorised Education Resellers (or AERs)
    These tend to be partners that are either much smaller, or where education customers are just a small part of a bigger business. They can only provide some of the Academic licences I've mentioned above. So you can get a School Agreement or Open Licence from them, you can't get a Select Licence (which is the lower priced of the two perpetual licences).
    I can hear you thinking "So, if AERs can't always sell me the lowest cost perpetual licence, why would I buy from them?". Good question.
    Well, back to the example of a small primary school - you may prefer to deal with a bigger company, because you think that's how you get the best value; or you may prefer to deal with a local company, just around the corner, because you think that's how you get the best service. So if you wanted a couple of computers, with the software installed for you, and an agreement that they'll pop around and fix any problems, you could got to a local company, who is a Microsoft AER, and will supply you with Academic licences under the Open scheme. It might cost a little more, but you may be willing to pay for that to get a local supplier. It's your choice.
    You should always check that you get the licence paperwork - for example, the original software CD and the licence key - when you buy an Open Licence, and especially if the software has already been installed for you. If you don't get this, you'll have no proof that you own the licence for the software you are running on those computers.

Finding the right partner

The UK Education website contains the lists of partners.

EdLARs all work nationally, so there's a page with all of their contact details (there's 19 to choose from)

AERs tend to work more locally, so you can search in your local area by county or town, or by company name. (And there’s over 500 to choose from)