Niel McleanNiel Mclean: to TES BuyWireFormer executive director at axed government ICT agency Becta Niel Mclean has taken his expertise with ICT procurement over to the private sector (he ran Becta's Home Access programme to provide families with ICT and internet connections for learning). He has joined Times Supplements Ltd as director of its TES BuyWire online procurement service.

TES BuyWire is a recent TSL development. It describes itself as an online platform that helps schools work together to "gain huge savings on the purchase of supplies, from paper to laptops, pens to minibuses".

It does this by supporting schools and organisations in getting quotations from competing suppliers. They can use quotations already used by fellow users of the service to get started with suppliers or they can get help in creating their own. Or they can use a service called STORM which the company says can achieve economies of scale.

At a time of concern over the abolition of Becta, and the shifting of responsibility for 'framework' ICT contracts over to the Department for Education (DfE), TSL clearly has "aggregation", the ability of schools to make savings through wise collective purchasing, in its sights. In 2010 it acquired Schoolquote, owner of an award winning 'buying tool' called Intelligent Buying Communities.

James review may bring more turbulence to schools ICT procurement

However, there may be more turbulence for those involved in ICT procurement for schools as the much-delayed "Review of education Capital" by Sebastian James recommends that ICT should be puchased separately from school buildings and that a national body, as yet un-named, should be involved. A response to the report is due from the DfE.

It is thought to be Niel Mclean's first foray into the private sector following a career closely aligned with teaching and learning. He also worked with the former Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (now QCDA) where he was principal manager for ICT and helped develop its place in the curriculum.

In recent years at Becta Niel Mclean was best known for running the government's Home Access programme which provided mobile devices and internet connections for families who could least afford it. He was a passionate advocate of the programme. He will find familiar faces in his new position. TSL managing director Bill Donoghue, while in his former position at Ramesys, was a stalwart sponsor of the Becta ICT awards that Niel Mclean helped to develop and steer. And former Becta CEO Owen Lynch was appointed to the TSL Advisory Board when it was set up under Lord David Puttnam in 2010.
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Niel Mclean on LinkedIn
Niel Mclean on Twitter
Becta Home Access

Note: Former Becta CEO Stephen Crowne, on his LinkedIn page, reveals that he is working with global networking company Cisco following the "voluntary liquidation" of Becta.