Buying with other schools

Schools can establish networks to share information and purchase goods or services as a group. Learn more about group-buying.

Level of compliance Main audience Other

Recommended

  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Staff responsible for buying on behalf of their school
  • Boards

Buying as a group can save all participating schools time and money.

Why buy as a group

The primary benefit of group-buying is that it can increase the buying power of participating schools.

When schools buy together, the total value of the purchase increases and suppliers are therefore likely to offer improved pricing and contract terms to secure the sale.

Group-buying can also:

  • prevent buyers at a group of schools from duplicating labour, which allows more time to be focused on educational outcomes and students across all schools
  • improve the quality of goods and services across all schools
  • encourage schools to share information about reputable and trusted suppliers.

Buying together - Rotorua Central Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako


Video transcript

Donna Burns, Working Group Lead, Rotorua

So it was about gathering information from all of our schools. We actually used a contracts register to get all of our contracts, who were our contractors, when do contracts expire?’. You know, ‘how much is it costing?’ and then that was a base to work on. Okay, ‘where is something familiar that we can now start the work on that’.

Donna (in meeting): So the first thing was this lawn-mowing contract.

So we discovered at one of our first meetings that two of our schools - a high school and a primary school - literally back onto each other, they can see each other's fields from their own fields. They were using two separate lawn mowing contractors...

Donna: So just looking at when the contracts would end.

We saw that as an opportunity there to say 'Hey, you know, we've got all these different contractors working in all these different schools, some that are right next to each other, where can we streamline that?' and maybe get to a point where we can save some money and get some quality service out of one provider.

Ally Gibbons, Principal, Rotorua Girls’ High School

They're useful because you've got a school down the road that's willing to share, but they've already gone through the process and they know the things that are working well, and the things that aren't working well, so you don't have to reinvent the wheel.

In terms of the whole group working together I hope that we become a really strong body to be able to negotiate strongly for prices that are going to benefit not only us but also the other schools. That's what I see the most benefit. It always comes back into what we can do for the students you know. It's about our learning, so if there are any savings that we make it's always ‘is there enough money’ to deliver curriculum programmes, PD or whatever.

That's where the savings go back into, and if somebody's doing something really, really well, why shouldn't we all explore that idea. If it's going to work for us in our school, then why wouldn't we implement it?

How to group-buy

It is smart to begin group-buying with a simple purchase, such as IT devices.

More complex purchases, such as cleaning, can be purchased for a group, though it requires more organisation to align the preferences of all group members.

Step Action
1

Contact other schools

 

Start by communicating with schools in your network, then communicate with any other local schools.

 

Ask the schools if they would be interested in buying as a group.

 

2

Establish how all schools’ specifications and timelines align

 

Gather information on the contracts that the participating schools are currently in. Establish who has an upcoming need to buy and for what goods or services.

 

This will enable you to determine the shared requirements within the group and when opportunities to group-buy will arise.

 

When looking to sign a contract as a group, it is ideal if all schools’ current contracts expire at the same time. However, schools might choose to investigate the consequences of terminating a contract early, in order to enter a new contract with a group.

 

See more on Terminating early
See more on Important contract clauses

 

3

Select a ‘lead school’

 

A lead school must be selected from the buying group.

 

This school will take responsibility for communication with the supplier and organising the group.

 

The benefits of the contract remain shared between all schools and are not impacted by the selection of a lead school.

 

4

Reaching agreement as a group

 

After an opportunity to group-buy has been identified, an agreement should be signed that outlines how all group members will work together to purchase the goods or services.

 

This agreement should state the:

  • school that is leading the purchase (lead school)
  • schools that are part of the agreement
  • start and end dates of the agreement and all review points (this is not needed for a one-off purchase)
  • goods and/or services being purchased
  • allocation of the goods or services between participating schools
  • roles and responsibilities of each school, including financial contributions
  • method for managing financial contributions
  • issue resolution process
  • process for managing a school wishing to conclude the agreement, including the required notice period (this is not needed for a one-off purchase).

 

This agreement might take the form of a Memorandum of Understanding.

 

At this time, a common specification of requirements may need to be prepared. Suppliers may or may not ask for a specification, depending on the goods or services purchased.

 

See more on Writing a specification of requirements

 

5

Complete the buying process

 

Follow the buying process to complete the purchase.

 

See more on the buying process, through the links below.

 

Buying basics
Running a competitive buying process
Evaluating a supplier’s offer
Key contract considerations

 

When all schools agree to a supplier’s offer, each school signs an agreement with the supplier for the purchase.

 

An alternative model might be the signing of a master services agreement by all schools, with individual services agreements signed by each individual school.

 

Be aware that when schools buy together, the total value of the purchase will increase, and other considerations might apply.

When a purchase if valued over $50,000
When a purchase is valued over $100,000

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