Procurement in the Education and Training Sector

By Gavin Molloy

Getting the Best Value for Money – The Purchasing Framework for ICT in Schools

Where do schools get best value for money and who are they allowed to buy from? We take a look at the Purchasing Framework/ Procurement for ICT in Schools

With the second tranche of ICT infrastructure grant upon us, there remains confusion among many schools with regard to how they are requested to spend the money. Let’s have a look at this in 3 key points.

1 – The Framework suppliers were agreed upon in 2015 – many fantastic new services and offerings have surfaced since then

Suppliers that are on the framework are there due to a successful tender made back in 2015. However, that was over two years ago and it hasn’t been updated since, so many suppliers that are currently offering the best service are not on the Framework. The Guidance for Schools document focuses heavily on value for money (so much so that they abbreviate it to VfM) – how can schools get the best VfM / value for money?  They can do so through their freedom to purchase from any supplier – once the school can provide ‘proof that their procurement processes have been conducted in a fair and transparent manner at all times’ (P. 8, Guidance for Schools on Good Procurement Practices) then they are free to ensure to shop around and ensure they get the best possible deal.

2 – The expectation of schools is for them to go to market to source the best value possible

Schools are allowed to buy from any supplier they wish. The Framework has been designed to ensure schools think before they buy – not only are schools allowed to buy from other suppliers, the guidelines state that it is best practice to shop around

A competitive process should be used at all times, save for in exceptional and unforeseen circumstances (P. 8, Guidance for Schools on Good Procurement Practices)

Figure 3 on the Guidance document illustrates how schools should source quotes and purchase from the supplier that is offering them the best value (not just the best supplier on the Framework).

3 – Schools need suppliers that understand schools

Many suppliers offer more than just a piece, or pieces, of hardware at a specific price. The best suppliers will discuss your needs, your intended use for the device(s) and how you expect to use them for teaching and learning – as per PDST advice. Suppliers such as this will be able to guide you based on what they know to have succeeded in other schools, through hands-on experience. There is much more to look for when shopping around than just the lowest price – schools need to shop around for suppliers that understand their needs and their medium to long term development goals; including training, strategy, planning and setup.

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