Buying with other schools

Buying as part of a group can save your school time and money.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


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

Why buy as a group

The primary benefit of buying as a group is that it can increase the buying power of the schools involved.

When schools buy together, the total value of the purchase increases. Suppliers are more likely to offer better prices and contract terms to secure the sale.

Buying as a group 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 those schools
  • encourage more schools to share information about reputable and trusted suppliers.

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.

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:

Declaring conflicts of interest

When a purchase is valued over $100,000:

Using the Government Electronic Tender Service

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?


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

While more complex purchases (such as cleaning services) can be purchased as a group, it requires more organisation to align the preferences of all members.

You need to be aware that when schools buy together, the total value of the purchase will increase and other considerations might then apply.

When a purchase is valued over $50,000:

Declaring conflicts of interest

When a purchase is valued over $100,000:

Using the Government Electronic Tender Service 

How to buy as a group

When you are buying goods or services with other schools, follow these steps.

  1. Contact other schools
  2. Establish how all schools’ specifications and timelines align
  3. Select a 'lead school'
  4. Reach agreement as a group
  5. Complete the buying process

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 other schools are currently in. Establish who has an upcoming need to buy and for what goods or services.

This will enable you to define the group's requirements and when opportunities to buy will come up.

If you are signing a group contract, it is ideal if all schools’ current contracts expire at the same time. In order to enter a new contract as a group, terminating a current contract early might be an option.

Terminating your contract early

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. Reach 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. Each template includes the key sections that may be included in an MoU for a low-risk and low-value purchase.

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.

Writing a specification of requirements

5. Complete the buying process

Follow the buying process to complete the purchase.

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.

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