Schools’ Buying Club FAQs
Q: Does Schools’ Buying Club provide independent procurement advice?
A: Schools’ Buying Club is an independent procurement consultancy established to support schools and trusts. Schools’ Buying Club manages compliant end-to-end open tenders, mini competitions and direct award procurement services through its secure
e-portal to achieve the best solutions for its customers.
Q: What do you mean by direct award?
A: If you wish to retain the services of your incumbent supplier, or have a preferred supplier in mind, direct award allows you to compliantly appoint them reducing procurement costs and timescales. We will help ensure the specifications are still fit for purpose and that costs are benchmarked to ensure that you are receiving best quality and best value.
Q: What do you mean by mini competition?
A: A mini competition allows you to market your tender to a small pool of selected suppliers who are ideally positioned to successfully deliver your contract. These suppliers have already demonstrated that they have the knowledge and know-how to deliver the service. We will manage a procurement exercise across these suppliers to help you select the one that offers best service and value.
Q: What do you mean by end-to-end tendering support?
A: Schools’ Buying Club knows how important it is to ensure services deliver exactly what is required, i.e. that they are fit for purpose. We also appreciate just how busy school business leaders are. This is why Schools’ Buying Club provides full end-to-end support, which means delivering the entire procurement process so that our school and trust customers can make informed decisions about which supplier to appoint.
Q: What do you mean by virtual procurement officer?
A: Many of our school and Trust customers return to us time and time again to help them procure new services, renew existing contracts and help develop their longer-term buying strategies. To help manage your budgets we’ll provide a procurement professional dedicated to your team to help you deliver all your tenders. They will assess the best route to market for each service you require and manage the process for you. They are on call to offer advice and deliver procurement exercises when you need them.
Q: What does the contract and project management service include?
A: Schools’ Buying Club together with Place Group Consulting can provide a range of contract and project management services. From re-negotiating contracts, managing service reviews, and developing applications for funding, all the way through to producing research and marketing services. We will provide you with the most economical solution based on your requirement, with a costed proposal detailing our scope of service.
Q: Is your Procurement Helpline free to use?
A: Yes, it is designed to answer all of your questions, help you through your concerns and support your buying needs as you plan your procurements – whether it’s how to run a compliant process, specific advice around certain categories of spend, or how to access the best deals. We run procurement workshops online as well as face-to-face across the regions, and have a series of tutorial films providing insights into running outsourced contracts and procurement regulations.
Q: Can I use Schools’ Buying Club to help with the CIPS Award for School Business Managers?
A: Schools’ Buying Club has partnered with ISBL and CIPS to take your procurement knowledge and skills one step further by contributing 10% towards the cost of your CIPS Award for School Business Professionals if you use one of our principle services (direct award, mini competition, full tender and virtual procurement officer). These services will help you prepare for completing this qualification as it provides real life case studies and demonstrates how high-quality procurement can drive improvements and efficiencies back into your school. Our procurement specialists will also be on hand to mentor you throughout the process. (T&Cs apply)
Q: Why have you introduced the SBC Regional Buying Hubs?
A: We have listened to feedback direct from our customers and understand that schools and Trusts are increasingly looking for hands-on support to procure regional suppliers, and provide contract management throughout the lifetime of their contracts. That’s why we have designed a service that focuses on local collaboration supported by a dedicated regional client manager to help save money and create greater efficiencies.
Q: By using Schools’ Buying Club, are we compliant?
A: Schools’ Buying Club runs compliant tenders – we are qualified public sector procurement specialists with years of experience saving schools and Trusts significant money by running competitive and compliant tenders. Our customers are secure in the knowledge that we run fair and transparent procurement services adhering to the latest public sector rules and regulations, and by using our e-portal we are able to provide a rigorous audit trail to demonstrate that a compliant procurement process has been delivered.
Q: Will you help single maintained schools as well as academies?
A: Yes, Schools’ Buying Club has been running successful tenders for all types of schools for eight years including infant, junior and primary schools as well as secondary and special schools and sixth form colleges. We support maintained, trust, voluntary controlled and voluntary aided schools across the country.
Q: Can Schools’ Buying Club help our network of schools even though we are not in a MAT?
A: Yes. We have experience of working with local clusters of schools to procure contracts that use collective buying power to drive best pricing, whilst allowing for a tailored service for each school. Schools’ Buying Club has saved schools hundreds of thousands of pounds by running collaborative tenders.
Q: We are a maintained school; can we still use Schools’ Buying Club?
A: Yes, all schools have a responsibility to secure best value with public money compliantly. Schools’ Buying Club ensures that all schools, whether maintained or an academy receive the very best professional support to procure high value and complex service contracts. It may be that the local council traded service provides best value and quality through its SLA, but schools should always benchmark services in the market especially if they feel the price and/or quality could be improved.
Q: How can MATs benefit from the Schools’ Buying Club service?
A: Schools’ Buying Club has worked with many MATs across the country and has helped secure central contracts saving hundreds of thousands of pounds. We help devise a long-term procurement plan which enables each academy in the MAT to join contracts when they are ready, I.E., when their individual contracts come to an end or when a new school joins the MAT. We work with the MAT’s business leader and liaise with each academy to ensure that the central contract meets both the Trust’s and each Academy’s requirements.
Q: How does Schools’ Buying Club charge for its service?
A: There is no direct fee to our school and Trust customers, instead Schools’ Buying Club receives a fee from the successful supplier that our clients select through the tenders that we run. Our fee covers all the work in developing and running the tender; managing contract award and mobilisation; and facilitating annual contract KPI reviews as well as being on hand to support our clients should any issues arise. The fee is spread across the term of the contract and is transparent; it is itemised within the supplier’s financial costs. The vast majority of our school and Trust customers prefer this arrangement, although we can provide a direct cost for managing the tender only if preferred. For contract and project management services we will provide a costed proposal based on the scope of the support required. Our Procurement Helpline and any advice and guidance queries are completely free.
Q: We are a group of schools and would like to hear more?
A: We are always happy to present to local networks of school business leaders, providing practical workshops and top tips about how to achieve best value. We sponsor a number of regional SBL Networks and attend ISBL regional events and school business conferences. Just contact Schools’ Buying Club and ask us to present at your next event: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: What do I need to do to appoint Schools’ Buying Club?
A: Following an initial meeting, Schools’ Buying Club will prepare a procurement proposal and timeline for your tender exercise, together with a Letter of Authority (LoA) which sets out the terms of our service. Once you sign the LoA, we will have your school’s / trust’s permission to act on your behalf to run the tender. It’s as simple as that. Our fee is arranged through the successful supplier, so schools and trusts do not need to pay for our support directly.