Schools

Trusts get £1m for Oak lessons copyright amid September 2023 launch plan

DfE felt it was 'appropriate' curriculum partners were paid for licensing

DfE felt it was 'appropriate' curriculum partners were paid for licensing

The government will pay £1 million to organisations and academy trusts who created online lessons for the Oak National Academy, with new resources not expected to be up and running for at least another 14 months.

As announced in the schools white paper, Oak will become a government arm’s length body to provide free curriculum resources for schools. The procurement process for creating resources won’t begin until November. 

Until then, Oak will continue to host content created by its “curriculum partners”, which include academy trusts like United Learning and Ark.

The Department for Education has agreed to pay curriculum partners around £100 per lesson to obtain the intellectual property rights. Schools Week understands this will total £1 million across the 10,000 lessons created.

This will be on top of the £2.5 million Oak – via its government funding – paid to over 550 teachers who created the lessons, mainly in summer 2020. The cash went to teachers, not their trusts.

Schools Week understands the DfE felt it was appropriate partners were paid for the ongoing licensing of the content.

Schools Week has approached the partners for comment.

New resources not due until next year

Ed Vainker, chief executive of the Reach Foundation which was a curriculum partner and also incubated Oak, said the lessons “drew on the curricular and content that schools and organisations had invested significant time and resources in developing”.

“It was not, however, originally envisaged this content would be made available for years to come, and so it’s now appropriate for the DfE to agree licenses with partners for their continued use.”

DfE officials said at a market engagement event today that, for the new curriculum body to be “really compliant”, it would need a “suitably long procurement process”. 

Webinar listeners were told the development of resources needs to be “done really carefully” with “an eye to some first resources potentially becoming available from September 2023”. 

As Schools Week revealed last week, six mainly EBacc subjects are being considered for the first tranche of lessons: English, maths, science, geography, history and RE. 

The resources will cover a “broad academic curriculum” from key stage 1 to 4. 

DfE said they want to “stimulate, not displace, high quality market offers and subject communities”. 

It follows threats of legal action from the sector. The British Education Suppliers Association claims the government breached rules on subsidies, procurement and consultation.

Academy trusts creating and making money from curriculum resources created by their teachers has been a contentious issue in the past.

Schools Week reported in 2019 how trusts given government funding to “test and refine” their curriculum packages as part of a trial scheme planned to sell the resources to other schools.

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