Buying for schools: find an approved framework agreement

Use a Department for Education (DfE) approved framework agreement to help you buy goods and services for your school.

Applies to England

Understanding framework agreements

Framework agreements help schools to buy goods and services from a list of pre-approved suppliers, with agreed terms and conditions and legal protections.

Framework agreements are provided by third parties. They run a tender to select the right suppliers to provide specific goods and services.

They can have:

  • details of the products and services available
  • details of the suppliers

  • instructions on how to buy
  • an agreed set of terms and conditions

Framework agreements help you to buy specific goods and services compliantly, for example:

  • catering
  • cleaning
  • IT
  • business services, such as transportation
  • professional services, such as auditors

Depending on the type of procurement, this may be quicker and easier than running a bespoke procurement. The framework provider will often give you help and support.

In some cases, the framework provider may charge you for this service, so check this with the provider.

DfE are impartial and do not receive a fee from the framework provider for recommending or using their framework agreement.

How suppliers fit into a framework agreement

Each framework agreement has a list of suppliers who have demonstrated they meet the requirements.

It’s the framework provider’s role to select suppliers for the period of the framework (usually no more than 4 years), using specific criteria based on:

  • price
  • quality
  • service

This means you can trust that you’ll receive quality goods or services that give value for money.

You’ll need to choose a framework agreement to be able to access its list of suppliers.


You can use some framework agreements without having to run a full buying process. You should check the requirements with the framework provider.

Buying from a framework can 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
  • may have an agreed pricing structure

You should read the user guide provided by the framework provider, to make sure it is the right framework for you and is used in the right way.

Using a framework agreement

A framework agreement allows schools to complete purchases using ‘call-off’ contracts, from a list of pre-approved suppliers. This means that your school can award a contract from a pre-tendered list of suppliers without having to complete a full procurement process. This is usually quicker for your school to award a contract.

Each framework agreement tells you how to choose a supplier and complete your buying process.

Depending on your type of procurement you could have the following options:

  • direct award, which allows you to select the supplier from a list and buy according to agreed prices
  • mini-competition, where you ask all suppliers on the list to send you a bid and you choose the best one that meets your requirements

As long as you use a framework agreement approved by DfE, as specified by the framework provider you will be buying through a compliant route. This means that you don’t need 3 quotes from the framework suppliers or elsewhere to complete the procurement.

Find a DfE approved framework agreement

Use our tool to find framework agreements and dynamic purchasing systems (DPS) for the goods or service that you’re buying.

Find a framework

How DfE selects framework agreements

A range of framework agreements are reviewed and assessed for:

  • compliance with procurement regulations
  • ease of use
  • suitability
  • value for money

Feedback from schools is also considered when selecting framework agreements.

The approved list is continually being reviewed and added to.

Dynamic purchasing systems (DPS)

DfE may sometimes recommend a DPS as part of the find a framework service. These are different to framework agreements.

With DPS agreements suppliers can join or leave during its lifetime.

Any suppliers can apply to join the DPS, including local suppliers.

You can identify a DPS by looking at the framework title.

Get specialist procurement advice

Use the Get help buying for schools service for free and impartial advice, help and support from our team of DfE procurement specialists on buying goods and services.

Our procurement specialists can give advice at any stage of your procurement process.

Published 1 July 2019
Last updated 1 September 2023 + show all updates
  1. Updated with latest information on how to use a framework agreement to help you buy goods and services for your school.

  2. Removed reference to the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), in line with the UK's exit from the EU.

  3. First published.