Buying for schools: get free help from procurement specialists

How all state-funded schools in England can get impartial help and advice from Department for Education (DfE) procurement specialists.

Applies to England

The specialists and what they can offer

The DfE ‘Get help buying for schools’ service includes a team of procurement specialists that can save you time and money by offering free support when you’re buying any goods or services for your school.

Help for all procurements

Our specialists can:

  • offer advice and guidance to make sure you’re buying compliantly at any point, even if your procurement process is already in progress
  • review your documents to make sure they’re complete and compliant - this includes advice on specification documents, tender documents and evaluation criteria
  • support you on choosing or using a framework agreement for your procurement
  • advise when you need to seek legal advice

Additional help for complex or high value procurements

Our specialists may offer to help run more complex or high value procurements. Some of the reasons they may offer to do this are:

  • when contracts are long term or multi-year
  • you’re buying for multiple schools
  • the value is above the public contracts regulations (PCR) threshold
  • the procurement requires inclusion of transferring personnel contracts under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations (TUPE)
  • you’re new or not experienced in running these types of procurements
  • there are problems with supply or prices change regularly, for example energy costs
  • it’s challenging to find suppliers

Working with DfE to run a complex or high value procurement

You will need to work closely with your specialist to make sure that your procurement is a success.

This means that you’ll need to:

  • gather information, for example, to create a specification
  • complete tasks, such as checking documents for accuracy
  • make decisions
  • be available for meetings

A DfE specialist will advise you on what to gather or what you need to do at each stage of your procurement to be compliant. Read more about the different routes to buying.

Request help and support

Make a request for help, advice or support with your procurement by using the ‘Get help buying for schools’ service.


We will respond by email within 2 working days once you submit a request.

We will usually stay in contact by email. Sometimes we may arrange a video call with you, for example if we want to talk with you about something complicated, or we want to discuss the help we can offer.

If you need us to communicate with you in another way, you can let us know when you first make a request for support.

How long the process takes

The time a procurement process takes varies depending on what you’re buying.

It typically takes 6 months to run a procurement but can be longer if tasks are not done on time, or if the procurement is complex or high value. For example, if you’re doing a procurement for multiple schools or if it requires a transfer of staff contracts. These types of complex procurements can take 12 months or longer.

When a DfE specialist gets in touch, they will advise you on how long your procurement can take.

Depending on the process that’s right for your school, they may give you a timeline to follow.

Other resources to help you buy

We offer other tools and resources such as:

  • guidance on how to buy and buying routes
  • ways to get support from other schools
  • self-guided tools that you can use for your procurement

Read the Buying for schools guidance to see what we offer.

Updates to this page

Published 18 May 2022
Last updated 1 September 2023 + show all updates
  1. Updated to include the latest information on the impartial help and advice available from Department for Education (DfE) procurement specialists for all state-funded schools in England.

  2. Added link to sign up for emails from DfE with the latest products and guidance on managing school resources.

  3. Updated the 'Stay up-to-date' section to remove an email address.

  4. First published.

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