Schools

Oak considers letting private firms sell on its lessons

Curriculum quango says it is considering whether to allow commercial use of its resources

Curriculum quango says it is considering whether to allow commercial use of its resources

The Oak National Academy will consider allowing private companies to sell its lessons on for profit.

Any potential move could put Oak at odds with its former owner, who had pledged nobody would be able to profit from the new body.

The organisation, now a government quango, has also said it will restrict its content to UK-based users only to support the “growing curriculum market”, and will signpost “alternative” offers amid a legal row.

Oak has today launched an £8.2 million procurement exercise for thousands of new digital resources and curriculum materials.

The tender process is part of Oak’s transformation into an arms-length public body, which was approved by the government earlier this year.

It follows the publication of the Department for Education’s business case for the creation of the quango, which warned government intervention was needed to break the “cycle” of school curriculum weakness and ensure catch-up and levelling-up were achieved.

Oak announced today that it will initially share its full curriculum packages on a domestic licence so any UK school or organisation can use and adapt them for non-commercial use.

However, the organisation said it had received “feedback about the potential benefits of broadening this licence to allow for greater innovation, such as integrating Oak within other providers’ platforms”.

Oak considers ‘options’ for commercial use

It will “therefore consider the options, opportunities and risks any extension would have for pupils, teachers, and the commercial market, by reviewing the evidence with the help of an independent and expert organisation”.

In reviewing the case for licensing changes, Oak said it would assess the evidence for changes “up to and including alignment with the Open Government Licence”.

Oak Academy
Ed Vainker

This permits “anyone to copy, publish, distribute, transmit and adapt the licensed work, and to use it both commercially and non-commercially”, as long as they acknowledge the source of the work.

Oak said this could see publishers “using parts of Oak to create textbooks, or Ed-Tech providers integrating Oak lessons into their platforms”.

This is likely to be controversial. It is not clear how the proposal will sit with the Reach Foundation, which previously incubated Oak until handing it over to the government in September.

Ed Vainker, Reach chief executive, said at the time that “no individual will be able to profit from the activities of the new body”.

Schools Week revealed last year how a privatisation plan proposed by Oak, where bosses would have been in line for a £41 million payday, was pulled after the Reach board voiced discontent.

Asked for clarification, Oak said if the review recommended anything that needs to change in its articles of association – such as allowing commercial organisations to benefit – Reach will get a say and need to approve it.

A Reach spokesperson said there are a “range of views about licencing and agreed the evidence should be looked at… Reach have always been focused on preserving the spirit of Oak’s foundation and the benefits it has brought to the system.”

Oak will also work with an independent and expert organisation to “better understand the evidence, opportunities and risks” behind the new proposal.

“We will seek input from a range of stakeholders, which we expect to include trade bodies, commercial organisations and school and teacher representatives.”

Oak lessons will only be available in the UK

It comes amid a growing row over the government’s decision to bring Oak, which was launched with DfE grant funding during the first Covid lockdown, into public hands.

The British Educational Suppliers Association issued a letter before claim over the move last month, claiming the government did not take into account “the potential market impact” of the quango proposals and failed to “geo-block the ALB site to the UK only”.

Oak has retreated on the latter demand, announcing its content will only be available to UK users from early 2023, apart from at “points of crisis”, such as in Ukraine.

In a further sign of compromise, Oak also said it would host and signpost more than 80 additional curriculum sequences, in addition to the Oak offer developed with the winning suppliers, so teachers can “compare alternative approaches”. These will be chosen in a separate, open selection process.

The tender process will allocate 12 lots in total, covering primary and secondary phases for maths, English, science, history,  geography and music. Lots are limited to four per supplier, unless a provider wins four lots and is the only supplier in the fifth lot beating the quality threshold.

Oak chief executive Matt Hood said the organisation was “excited to enhance our entirely optional and adaptable offer”.

“Any teacher will be able to access some of the best thinking the sector has to offer.

“We’ve listened carefully to the sector in drawing up our plans. The arrangements published today show our determination and commitment to support a diverse and growing market in curriculum resources, which is precisely what teachers want so they have a choice of which resources they use.”

Latest education roles from

Internal Quality Assurance Employability and Distance Learning

Internal Quality Assurance Employability and Distance Learning

Capital City College Group

Distance Learning Tutor

Distance Learning Tutor

Capital City College Group

Event Support Team Leader

Event Support Team Leader

MidKent College

E-Sport Technician

E-Sport Technician

MidKent College

Digital Technician

Digital Technician

MidKent College

Student Welfare Officer

Student Welfare Officer

MidKent College

Sponsored posts

Sponsored post

Navigating NPQ Funding Cuts: Discover Leader Apprenticeships with NPQs

Recent cuts to NPQ funding, as reported by Schools Week, mean 14,000 schools previously eligible for scholarships now face...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

How do you tackle the MIS dilemma?

With good planning, attention to detail, and clear communication, switching MIS can be a smooth and straightforward process, but...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

How can we prepare learners for their future in an ever-changing world?

By focusing their curriculums on transferable skills, digital skills, and sustainability, schools and colleges can be confident that learners...

SWAdvertorial
Sponsored post

Inspiring Education Leaders for 10 Years

The 10th Inspiring Leadership Conference is to be held on 13 and 14 June 2024 at the ICC in...

SWAdvertorial

More from this theme

Schools

‘Children are our future and it’s for them that Tim dedicated his life’ 

Hundreds gather to remember the late Sir Tim Brighouse

Samantha Booth
Schools

Birmingham withdraws schools from £100m IT system

Heads were unable to make financial plans as glitches left them waiting months to learn the size of their...

Jack Dyson
Schools

Hinds says ‘all schools’ restrict phones, and 5 more key findings

Schools minister also says the 'option' of statutory mobile phone guidance remains

Freddie Whittaker
Schools

CST calls for policy changes over ‘unsustainable’ parent complaints

Academy body says rise in complaints is putting 'significant pressure on school leaders’

Jack Dyson

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *