Find the right way to buy
When to buy from a deal or framework and when to get bids or quotes.
Always follow your school’s procurement rules. These may be your school’s own rules, or set by the local authority.
Check if you can get what you need through one of our deals for schools, or a framework agreement, before you look for quotes or bids.
If they do not have what you need then you will have to get quotes or bids by running your own buying process.
Deals for schools
The Department for Education has set up deals to help schools save money on some of the things they buy regularly. There are 10 deals for schools available at the moment.
New deals are being arranged all the time.
What are framework agreements?
Frameworks are a type of contract with agreed terms and conditions for buying goods, works or services for your school. You can use them without having to run a full buying process.
Each framework agreement will have:
- details of the products and services available
- an agreed pricing structure
- details of the suppliers
- instructions on how to buy
- an agreed set of terms and conditions
Buying from a framework will usually be quicker and easier than getting bids or quotes because the agreements:
- have already been through a full competitive tender process
- have been quality checked
- are checked to make sure they comply with the law
- may have draft specifications and help available
How to buy from a framework agreement
Each framework says how you can select a supplier and place an order. You’ll have to either:
- select the supplier from a list
- run a ‘mini-competition’ where you ask all the suppliers on the list to send you a bid and you choose the best one
Find a framework agreement
These frameworks are open to all schools to use:
- Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has frameworks open to the public sector
- Central Buying Consortium (CBC) is a buying group of local authorities based in the southern England
- The Crescent Purchasing Consortium (CPC) has buying arrangements for the further education, academies, free schools and schools sectors
- ESPO is a public-sector-owned professional buying organisation
- North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO) is a collaborative procurement organisation for the north east public sector
- YPO is a public sector procurement organisation
Your local authority may have frameworks set up for services you can use.
Running your own buying process
If you cannot get what you need through a framework agreement you’ll have to run your own buying process.
The process you use depends on how much you’re spending:
What’s meant by low, medium and high will be set out in your school’s procurement rules. As a guide, we generally say:
- low – under £10,000
- medium – £10,000 to £40,000
- high – over £40,000
EU procurement thresholds are:
- goods – £181,302
- works – £4,551,413
- most services – £181,302
However some services for education, health and care are covered by the ‘light touch regime’ and have a threshold of £615,278. Check the list of all the services covered by the light touch regime in the legislation.
We recommend that you get legal advice if what you are buying is over, or near to, the EU procurement thresholds.