Open Education/Computing

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New Zealand Schools Can Choose To Be Proprietary Software Free

The New Zealand Ministry Of Education allows schools to be self managing and this includes the use of software.


The New Zealand Ministry of Education allows schools:

  • To decide if they would like to use School Management System software.
  • Information contained in proprietary SMS to be retained in free and open formats such as Open Office Calc or Open Office Base.
  • To conduct their twice yearly school roll returns on-line through the MOE's portal Enrol

Warrington School

  • Warrington School has moved away from using an SMS and has exported this information into an Open Office Cals spreadsheet.
  • Warrington School is saving $560 per year on its SMS fee by using free applications.

Warrington School installed and set-up a proprietary SMS in 2006

What I have observed as a teaching Principal from 2006 to 2008

  • We pay about $500 dollars each year to use this software.
  • Because we have chosen to move onto using a non-proprietary (free software) operating system GNU/Linux (Ubuntu) we struggled to run our SMS system.
  • Because we chose to Ubuntu we have paid (through donated funds) for a technician to help install our SMS onto our server - which worked at a basic level.
  • We had time donated from an Open Source company keen to see Warrington succeed in using Free software, this was used to assist us in using an SMS on our server.

What we have used the SMS for in this period

  • The 4 teachers of the school do not use the SMS system.
  • I am given pieces of paper that the school's secretary has printed out from the SMS for March the 1st and July the 1st roll returns. I count up my pupils, check the accuracy of the data and sign it.The Board chair signs these documents as well.
  • The school secretary uses the SMS for creating some lists, such as pupil details,health, parents and money owing.


  • Remove all proprietary software from Warrington School including our SMS.
  • Pass on the information that most (especially small) schools presently using an SMS can do without and save themselves money.


  • Because NZ schools can run without proprietary software if they choose to.
  • Because NZ children will not be disadvantaged by schools opting to use free software.
  • Because the NZ government presently in a recession should be looking towards innovative practices within its own civil services to save on expenditure.
  • Because the NZ government should be encouraging thrift by those who are administering government funded budgets.
  • Because New Zealand tax payers money should be used to pay for the employment of New Zealanders not for proprietary software licenses.
  • There are freely available SMS available that with some NZ techical expertise could be adapted to meet the demands of all NZ schools and not require ongoing payment of fees -

Claroline claSS Koha - free library software or keep things simple by using spreadsheets and data bases that are free with all operating systems.


  • Warrington School will remove all the proprietary software from their computers.

Principal's Commitment

I believe as the educational leader of the school that:

  • Warrington would benefit from extra secretarial or teacher aide hours rather than spending money on an SMS fee.
  • Warrington children and staff are not disadvantaged from using Free software.
  • NZ schools should be able to choose their own non-proprietary software.
  • I am willing to face the consequences of the MOE and my Board of Trustees for refusing to use proprietary software in Warrington School.
Road Works.svg Work in progress, expect frequent changes. Help and feedback is welcome. See discussion page. Road Works.svg