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Procurement Tips for Academies

Academies Save Money by Buying Together

Is your school considering adopting a collaborative approach to procurement? Are you concerned about what it’ll entail and the risks involved?

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Joint Purchasing

In November 2014, the Department for Education (DfE) published a helpful guide for all schools on joint purchasing.

The aim of the guide is to encourage collaborative buying to helps chools save some of the £9.2 billion that they spend each year on non-pay expenditure, which in turn will enable schools to direct more of their resources towards other areas. Although joint procurement can take many different forms, the guide demonstrates how beneficial it can be if done correctly.

By leveraging the buying power of the public sector, schools can obtain economies of scale to secure the best deals, as well as dealing with concerns, such as quality control or supply continuity.

There are many ways that schools can procure collaboratively, such as using existing frameworks, which will save time, effort and money.

Here are our five top tips, taken from the DfE guide:

  1. Make sure you comply with the EU Procurement Directives where relevant
    The guide highlights that when schools work together their requirement becomes aggregated and the overall estimated value may reach the EU threshold of £172,514 (excluding VAT) for supplies and services.

  2. Identify which schools to collaborate with
    This takes research and planning. Schools should consider choosing partners of a similar size with compatible needs, perhaps in close regional proximity to enable ease of access for knowledge sharing and collaboration.

  3. Share best practice and knowledge of the market between schools
    Benchmarking data can be used between schools to compare prices and obtain better deals.

  4. Use a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
    This can be used as a form of an agreed business plan to ensure that everyone is completely clear on what is required. A template MOU is attached to the back of the DfE guide.

  5. Try a collaboration on a small and non-strategic spend area
    Doing this first enables you to test the approach to joint procurement and learn from any mistakes you might make, before moving on to a bigger collaboration.


For more information on this or any other procurement issue you may be facing, or if you are interested in a procurement policy for your academy, multi academy trust or school, please contact Allison Cook on 0117 314 5466.

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