Menu ▼

Survey to provide first detailed national picture of school procurement

The first national survey into the state of school procurement in England launches this week - National School Procurement Survey (NSPS13)

18 June 2013

The first national survey into the state of school procurement in England launches this week.

School business managers, headteachers, bursars and governors in every school in England are being invited to take part in the National School Procurement Survey (NSPS13).

The survey has been developed by, the national register of businesses used and approved by schools.

The survey runs until 19 July. It is designed to gain the first detailed national picture of the procurement practices of schools, explained Peter Melville, a school business director and founder of

He said: “The purpose of NSPS13 is three fold. Primarily it is to explore the challenges faced by schools nationally when it comes to procurement, to share tips on best practice and identify areas of training.

“More and more schools today have total control of how they spend their budgets but this transformation has brought with it a range of new challenges for schools, including how they should get the best value for money from the services and products that they buy in. Local authority buying operations have retreated but schools are still being expected to deliver value from a marketplace where they are small players. This puts schools at a severe disadvantage so there is much to be said for attempting to understand those issues more thoroughly.

“Secondly it is to establish schools’ preferred methods of sourcing trusted educational suppliers and contractors. This in turn can be used to inform companies on the most effective ways of marketing to schools in a way that schools are more likely to respond to, yet keeps schools in full control of their procurement.

“Finally, we want to unpick the views of school leaders and stakeholders towards socially responsible procurement (SRP) and gather ideas on the best ways to promote more responsible buying across all UK schools.”

Results of NSPS13 - which will be completely anonymous - will be shared with schools, education policy makers, unions and education suppliers in the autumn.

“The results will give baseline data from which to assess future developments in school procurement,” Peter Melville said. “The impact of the survey will come from shared best practice between schools, training in procuring the best suppliers at the best value and the implementation of support offered to buying clubs and consortia for schools.

“The survey results will also be an effective tool for suppliers when planning their education marketing – an area that is recognised as a particularly important area to get right.”

The survey will seek schools’ responses on a range of procurement topics and associated issues, including:

• the greatest challenges faced in school procurement
• how often schools believe they are achieving best value for money in their buying decisions
• how schools source suppliers
• how decision makers currently identify and compare service costs and quality of suppliers
• the most important factors influencing the procurement of goods and services
• how schools can be encouraged to be more socially responsible in their buying

All state schools in England have received a link to the online survey, which can be accessed at

Peter Melville added: “We would encourage all schools to complete the survey. School procurement practices have been in the media in recent months and a proper understanding of the pressures faced by schools will help us to work together in a more co-ordinated way to address any challenges we face.”  is the first register of companies to be based purely on the recommendations of schools that have used their services. It is designed to give headteachers, school business managers and bursars rich, objective information that will help them make better buying decisions.


Incensu says:

Schools are encouraged to take part in the National School Procurement Survey 2013 to help build a national picture of buying practices in UK schools.