Jenny Williams, Commercial Director at the Department for Education

Comment: DfE's Jennifer Williams on procurement

The start of a new school year provides us the ideal opportunity to challenge and break our buying habits, writes Jennifer Williams, commercial director at the Department for Education

It was wonderful to see over 80 schools commended at this month’s Education business awards. There were some fantastic stories of schools having a significant impact on learning, social mobility and of course a topic particularly close to my heart, procurement. I always love to hear that a school has saved on non-staff costs and what a fine example with the winners, Stour Academy Trust saving £60k on a single contract. It shows what is achievable when a school challenges its existing contracts and suppliers to get better value for money.

The start of a new school year provides us the ideal opportunity to challenge and break habits and remind ourselves that successes like Stour Academy Trusts are possible. I hope that with our support we could help you make one small change every month so that you could be picking up your procurement accolade this time next year. From September, we will be sharing with you monthly savings opportunities that you can take advantage of.

I do understand how difficult it is to find the time to re‑negotiate contracts, find the best prices and navigate the complexity often associated with procurement. But the rewards for your school can be huge. The Schools Commercial Team was established to support you through precisely these challenges.

We are publishing new recommended deals over the summer ready for your new school year. There is a new Agency Supply Teachers framework in development, helping you get a better deal on agency fees and we are making improvements to the buying for schools pages on GOV.UK to make information more accessible.

My resolution last year was to listen to schools more and really understand what they want and need from us. We want the schools buying community to help us broaden our scope and shape these plans and initiatives. Our team have been working incredibly hard to kick off the ‘buying for schools’ initiatives with some fantastic input from across the sector. I know the importance of getting this right and continually improving our offer. We can only do this with support and feedback from the schools using our initiatives and we are eager to work closer with you to ensure we are on the right track. If you would like to be part of helping us transform procurement support to schools, please get in touch

Check out ‘buying for schools’ on GOV.UK for all our deals and initiatives. We are updating and adding news ones all the time. And do look out for our monthly opportunities starting in September.

Further Information: