Buying for schools

Buying low to medium cost things

How schools can buy low or medium value things by researching suppliers and getting at least 3 quotes.

Your school’s procurement policy should set the low and medium levels. We generally say:

  • low is under £10,000
  • medium is £10,000 to £40,000

To buy in this way you should:

  • decide how you will assess the bids
  • get quotes from at least 3 suppliers
  • assess all the quotes you get fairly
  • choose the supplier that offers best value for money

Getting quotes

Once you’ve written your specification you should look for suppliers. Consider both price and their reputation.

Get quotes from at least 3 suppliers.

Send everyone the same information, including:

  • your specification
  • when you need the quote
  • when you will decide
  • how they can ask questions about what you’re buying or your process
  • if needed, a link to your school’s terms and conditions

Decide how you’ll assess the quotes

Before you contact anyone, work out how you’ll decide the best quote by setting ‘award criteria’ such as:

  • price
  • quality
  • how suppliers meet your specification
  • how quickly they can supply

Give each criteria:

  • a range of scores – such as 1 to 5, with 5 the highest
  • a weighting – a figure you multiply the score by depending on how important the criteria is

Example If price is most important, you might give it a weighting of 5 – so a score of 4 would be worth 20.

How to decide the winning quote

Assess the quotes using the award criteria you sent to the suppliers.

To avoid legal challenges:

  • do not open any quotes before the deadline
  • do not open any late quotes
  • treat all quotes fairly and equally
  • keep confidential, secure, auditable records
  • buy from the highest scoring supplier

Who should assess the quotes

It’s best to have at least 2 people assess each quote. When they’re finished they should compare scores and:

  • discuss where they’ve scored differently
  • reach an agreed score

Be aware, the more people involved, the harder it can be to reach an agreed score.

Keeping records

Keep a record of all scores, comments and decisions. There’s software you can buy or you can use a spreadsheet.

You can copy our example spreadsheet.

Place your order

Send a contract – such as a purchase order – to the supplier you’ve chosen, including:

  • what you’ve bought
  • price
  • delivery address
  • delivery date and any other important dates
  • when you’ll pay

See writing and managing a contract.