Broadband provider apologises after putting ‘unnecessary pressure’ on schools to renew deals

A trust which provides ICT services in schools has apologised for putting “unnecessary pressure” on teachers to renew broadband internet deals amid a row over blocking emails from a competing company.

The BBC has reported today that London Grid for Learning (LGfL), a consortium of London councils which negotiates services in 2,500 of the capital’s schools, blocked an email to a school from a rival broadband provider.

LGfL said in a statement the email was filtered as spam because it was deemed as “unsolicited bulk email”, not because the company was a competitor.

But the charitable trust is also facing criticism for putting pressure on teachers to renew their deals.

One letter, seen by the BBC, reportedly offered a school a 20 per cent reduction on its annual payment and a tripling of broadband speed – but only if the deal was signed within a fortnight.

Micon Metcalfe, finance director at Dunraven School in south London, described the emails as “unprofessional”, adding they presumed nobody in schools knew anything about IT.

The trust has since written to schools to apologise.

“We think we made a mistake,” the letter read. “And gave too much information about timescales for response, putting unnecessary pressure on schools.”

Schools Week reported in June that schools and colleges were facing losses of thousands of pounds after a computer finance company went into liquidation owing creditors £670,000.

It followed a BBC 5Live and Panorama investigation in 2012 showing schools were being charged up to 10 times too much for IT equipment through mis-sold lease agreements.

Schools Week also revealed schools had lost hundreds of thousands of pounds through scams including phone hacking.

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