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Winning Tenders with Schools and Academies


Written by Chris Turner


Jan 27, 2023

We have developed this article in order to help SME suppliers understand what schools and academies buy and how you can bid for contracts with them, which will help you grow your business.

What do Schools, Academies and Multi Academies Trusts (MATs) buy?

English schools for ages 5 – 16 have £53.5bn of funding in 2022-23 or £6,970 per pupil. The Department for Education (DfE) provides them with guidance in order to help procure goods and services more efficiently with a focus on creating cashable savings, achieving value for money and compliance.

Schools do not typically have specialist procurement skills or resources so they are encouraged to use existing frameworks which provide a compliant route to access approved suppliers with competitive rates. For further information on what a framework is and how it can help your business please click this link.

Schools, academies and MATs buy:

  • Books, stationery and education and office supplies
  • Consultancy covering facilities management, catering, construction, ICT and waste
  • Energy and utilities, including energy efficiency, such as LED lighting
  • Faculties management and estate services including cleaning, fire and security, heating systems and plumbing, catering services, furniture and PPE
  • Financial services including audit services, insurance, leasing
  • ICT, including audio-visual solutions, communications and telephony services, cyber security, education management systems, ICT networking, IT hardware, multi-functional devices (MFDs) and print management
  • Legal, recruitment services and HR
  • Transport services, including passenger transport solutions with taxis and coaches.

How do Schools, Academies and MATs buy?

As schools and academies are funded through the public purse they have to procure their services in line with Public Contracts Regulations (PCR). For low-value requirements under £40k, they should get 3 quotes. This means if contract values at this level are of interest to your business, it is important you use a traditional sales and marketing approach in order to get yourselves in front of them.

For higher value contracts, over this £40k requires a full tender process, which will be advertised. Our free software Tender Pipeline allows you to monitor these adverts and set up email alerts. To access to the tender software, click here. Running their own tender process does take time and cost money so many schools and MATs use pre-approved and compliant framework agreements.

The DfE recommends schools meet their procurement requirements through the use of existing framework agreements. These frameworks are promoted to schools and academies so ensuring your business is on these frameworks will open up new opportunities.

Schools, academies and MATs are encouraged to use:

  • ESPO frameworks – we provide a full overview of ESPO here
  • Crescent Purchasing Consortium (CPC) frameworks we provide a full overview of CPC here
  • West Mercia Energy (WME) frameworks
  • Crown Commercial Services (CCS) frameworks - we provide a full overview of CCS here
  • Laser Energy (LASER) framework for LED lighting
  • YPO frameworks - we provide a full overview of YPO here
  • NHS Shared Business Services (SBS) framework - we provide a full overview of NHS SBS here
  • DfE School Furniture framework
  • Fusion21 framework - we provide a full overview of Fusion21 here
  • Kent County Supplies (KCS) framework – we provide a full overview of KCS here
  • Everything ICT framework – well for everything ICT… hardware, software, AV, connectivity, infrastructure, cloud services, managed services and IT consultancy.

In addition to these DfE-recommended frameworks, we do also help our clients bid for school contracts and frameworks via:

Schools are encouraged to run a mini competition in order to find the best supplier for them. This involves approaching relevant and approved suppliers in their region and asking them to price based on their specifications. Along with the price, there is a further quality section which is your chance to stand out, to demonstrate why your business is best placed to help them. Most of the frameworks above allow suppliers to bid for certain regions, which really helps SMEs access this market.

To discuss how to access these frameworks, what they require from businesses and to understand if you can compete – contact us now:

Speak to a Bid Writing Expert

Bid Writing Consultancy to Win Contracts with Schools, Academies and MATs

Thornton & Lowe has both helped schools, academies and MATs both procure new services, as well as helping suppliers and contractors bid and secure contracts with them.

When schools were increasingly moving away from local authority support, becoming academies and taking responsibility for their own purchasing of goods, products and services Thornton & Lowe supported them to set up compliant contracts for cleaning services, catering services and M&E contracts.

As a result, we understand what is important to them when helping our SME clients with their bid writing needs. We are there to maximise your chances of success when completing the quality method statements, which require experience and expert bid writing support.

Take a look at what we have achieved for Totally Local Company which provide facilities management services to schools and academies, ranging from catering to cleaning, signage and waste management, with this detailed case study.

Or what we have achieved for DMS to provide technology solutions for schools and multi-academy trusts, which can be found in our case study here.

Or why not take a look at our external reviews platform to see what others say about our bid writing services?

Bid Writing Top Tips

We have developed a range of top tip when bid writing for public sector tenders, which can be found here. This bidding guidance will help your business when tendering for opportunities with schools, colleges and MATs.

You may also want to develop the bidding skills of your in-house team. Take a look at our bid writing workshops and training courses here.

Speak to a Bid Writing Expert

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