Academies lead collaborative procurement

BESA survey shows that academies are increasingly adopting collaborative procurement practices to save money

The ‘Procurement in Authority Schools and Academies’ research carried out by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) shows that more academies are buying in association with other schools including formal or informal clusters, academy chains or any other bulk-buying service, while in contrast there is evidence that fewer authority schools are collaborating.

Taking printed and digital resources as an example, the current research shows that 45% of primary and 40% of secondary academies sometimes or always collaborate on purchasing. In 2013 just 40% of primary and 34% of secondary academies used this method of achieving economies of scale.

This increasing trend towards collaboration is backed up by those academies who have historically stated that they would never collaborate in the procurement of teaching materials. In 2012, 75% of academies stated that they would never collaborate but this dropped to 69% in 2013 and again in this year’s research to 61%.

In authority schools the trend in collaborative procurement is slight but reversed, with 62% of schools currently stating they will never consider this way of purchasing compared with 57% in 2013 and 58% in 2012.

The good news is that there is a slow transition towards schools reacting to special offers to ensure value for money with 23% stating they look for such opportunities, an increase from 16% last year. 

Caroline Wright, director, BESA said: “While academies are increasingly purchasing in clusters as a way of pursuing value for money, secondary academies are also increasingly sourcing non-branded products where relevant. There is also a trend to switch to low-cost web providers and to search for special offers. Overall, more effort appears to be occurring to secure value for money.”