national funding formula

The government is set to launch a new ‘Get Help Buying’ service this autumn to ensure schools are “efficiently delivering value for money” when buying goods and services.

The Department for Education (DfE) has today launched a consultation for the proposed Get Help Buying for Schools service.

The service offers DfE-recommended deals in areas such as energy bills, catering and cleaning, along with examples of services other schools use.

It follows two pilots in the North West and South West which saved £19.4m on non-staff spend across 2,000 schools.

The department’s first Schools Buying Strategy in 2017 identified that schools “often lack the capacity or access to capability to undertake more complex procurement processes”.

Under the proposal, schools will be able to access the national service through its outreach and engagement team or through going directly to the Buying for Schools gov.uk pages.

Users will be given access to digital products and information which helps inform their buying decision as well as “plan their procurements or build a specification for what they need to buy”.

The DfE states that if a school needs more support they will be directed to a procurement specialist who can provide specific advice and guidance on what they need to buy.

The specialist will also work with or on behalf of the schools to deliver procurements from source to contract award.

However once the service is launched, the DfE plans to develop further digital capability which will allow schools to “self-serve through the whole buying journey digitally”.

Academies minister Baroness Berridge said leaders are “continually looking at ways to achieve the best value for money to give their pupils the best education possible”.

The DfE states its research identified that the “ability to ‘plan a procurement’ and ‘create a specification’ creates the greatest value for the user as they enable a school to carry out the initial stages of the procurement process effectively”.

The service will be available to all state-funded primary, secondary, special and alternative provision schools which have some pupils aged 5-16; and to maintained nursery schools.

However it will not be provided to private, voluntary and independent schools or institutions that provide only for pupils aged 16 and above.

The DfE said it is “uniquely placed to provide this service in-house” and by building the service in house “gives DfE the flexibility to develop the service over time to meet market changes and school needs”.

The consultation closes on March 11.