A guide to buying school stationery

Mark Rosser quizzes a selection of BESA’s members on what schools should consider when procuring school stationery and how to source the best products.

In this new pre-Brexit world, we will inevitably see changes in the items supplied for use in schools.

Indeed, this comes at a time when education has already seen a decrease in real-time funding. Extra costs such as ‘one off’ pension and NI contributions also mean that schools will have to make some careful decisions about purchasing resources this year and the next. The recent fall in value of Sterling versus the US Dollar will also raise the price of many products. Overall, getting the best value is more important than ever.

Taking in to consideration the current situation, schools should carefully think about the following factors in reaching their purchasing decisions.

Is it value for money?
The first consideration should be whether the product is value for money. Mike Bird, education sales manager from Helix, comments that: “In general, the historic and proven brands provide the best solution here. Whilst they may not be the ‘cheapest’ they will usually have a good track record over many years and will provide good service and offer long lasting and reliable products.

“A short term decision made purely on quality and price can often back fire, costing much more in the longer term. Brands also tend to be the innovators and improvers of products which mean better researched and improved new products that will benefit pupils.”

Is the product good quality?
The quality of the stationery product should be given some thought. Jonathan Skyrme, general manager at BIC UK & Ireland, agrees with Mike that “Quality and durability should also not be overlooked – it’s not the case that all pens and pencils are the same. It’s well worth contemplating how long you expect or need the products to last.

“Products that offer USPs such as stronger pencil leads, and inks that are designed not to dry out might be slightly more expensive, but investing in them can often save money in the long-run.
For instance, BIC® KIDS EVOLUTION colouring pencils, which are available in a wide range of vivid colours, have unique, ultra-resistant lead, making them more durable and therefore likely to last longer.”

BESA member Pritt continuously focuses on making sure they provide the best quality products. Lyndsay Boothman, Pritt’s customer manager, comments that: “All of our sticks are made from 90 per cent natural and renewable ingredients and as a result of its superior formula you can glue double the amount of paper with one Pritt stick than the next best-selling competitor. Pritt is also washable at 20 degrees, perfect for when kids come home with messy jumpers.”

Consider your audience
Jonathan Skyrme, general manager at BIC UK & Ireland, comments that: “Once you’ve established how many items you require, and whether they’re for art classes, handwriting or general use, it’s vital to think about the age of the pupils you’re buying for.”

The ergonomics of stationery instruments vary enormously depending on the age group they’re targeted at. Jonathan adds: “It is imperative that the correct tools are given to the correct age groups to maximise children’s development.” This is especially true when it comes to writing instruments, and it’s why at BESA member BIC they have developed so many different products suited to specific age categories.

Your supplier’s credentials
When purchasing, always consider whether the supplier is proven and reliable. Mike from Helix suggests that: “The best and easiest way to ensure this is to buy from a reliable source that will provide back-up, expertise and quality continuation.”

Lyndsay from Pritt also agrees: “There are many specialist education wholesale suppliers who offer very wide ranges at very competitive prices across all key categories, operating nationally and with next day delivery.”

BESA members provide all these qualities and more. The BESA website should be your first choice when considering suppliers. A full list of members can be viewed at www.besa.org.uk/supplier/ and is searchable by category.

Every company that joins BESA signs up to the BESA Code of Practice, which means that companies have been approved both financially and ethically before being accepted as members. The BESA Code of Practice is in place to ensure that buyers of educational and training equipment can have confidence in the goods and services they purchase from members. It also allows BESA to promote members as organisations which give the customer an established level of quality and service, have a commitment to the education market and deliver good value resources.

Innovations in the market
Well-known brands tend to be the innovators in new products and invest significant amounts in research and development.
This year, BESA member Pritt launched an innovative glue stick in the market: Pritt Glitter Glue. This unique glue stick combines coloured glue with glitter, creating a brand new mess-free solution for decorating art and craft projects. As the glitter is engrained within the glue, it remains stuck to the paper, meaning you will have no annoying glitter mess to clear up!

Pritt also provides value to its customers through providing support and guidance for teachers with arts and crafts projects. The Pritt website is packed full of handy arts and crafts activities and tips which aim to make it easier for teachers to enjoy art and craft lessons with their classes.

It goes without saying that all of your chosen products should meet the required British Standards to ensure safety at all times.

Further information