FAQs

Below is a list of common questions regarding the Schools' Buying Hub North West. If you can't find the answer you are looking for you can also contact us.

    • The Hub

      Is there a charge for my school accessing the Hubs' services?

      There is no charge to schools for accessing the Hubs' services.

      What categories of spend does the Hub service cover?

      Hubs will be able to provide expert advice and guidance on all non-staff categories of spend.

      Can I suggest areas for improvement?

      Yes! We welcome your feedback. If you are part of the Hub pilot then please complete questionnaires which you may see from time to time. If you are not part of the pilot then please email suggestions to: Schools.commercial@education.gov.uk.

      I still have further questions, how do I find out more?

      If you require further information please contact schools.commercial@education.gov.uk.

      Am I obligated to use the Schools’ Buying Hub?

      No, you are not obligated to use the Schools’ Buying Hub, but by signing up to the Hub you have agreed to participate fully and to share information with us about your spending. This will enable us to evaluate our service and ensure it provides the best possible experience and value.

      The Hub sounds like a good idea, but as a school we feel we are okay and have what we need

      The free consultation service offered by the Hubs can help to identify whether any savings can be made by your school. Very often additional savings can be attained by aggregating (buying with others) or extending a good deal with the help of good procurement advice.
    • Procurement

      If my school signs up to a Hub, can we still use alternative methods of procurement or will we be restricted to always using the Hub’s services?

      The Hubs are a free service providing schools with help when buying goods and services. They will provide expert procurement advice and guidance for schools to make an informed choice of best value for money to meet their needs.

      What is meant by ‘advice and guidance’?

      The Vision of the Hub is to be a trusted support and advice service to help schools with their procurement activities. Through phone, email, web chat and our website, we will offer advice and Guidance on achieving best value across all categories of spend, and ensure compliance with relevant regulations by providing access to the following:

      • buying guides
      • general procurement advice guides
      • a support desk
      • onsite visit

      What is meant by ‘complex’ procurement?

      Complex procurement covers procurement and contract management activity where one or more of the following apply:

      • the requirement is complex, difficult to define or innovative
      • a bespoke product or service is required
      • the procurement is considered high risk to a school due to the high value or long-term nature of the contract
      • market conditions are difficult
      • the School Buyer does not have the specialist category expertise required to develop and manage services due to the infrequency of placing such contracts (E.g., catering, cleaning and maintenance).

      What is meant by ‘aggregated’ procurement?

      Aggregated procurement covers procurement where the demand or requirement for identical or similar services/products is grouped together from participating Schools, to offer the schools greater economies of scale when negotiating with potential suppliers. This is likely to include local/regional supply provision. (E.g., learning resources, ICT learning resources and administrative supplies).
    • Department for Education

      What is the difference between the Department for Education’s (DfE) category management team and the buying Hubs?

      The DfE category management team and Hubs service will work in collaboration to identify and provide guidance on best deals for schools. The Hubs, however, will be the schools' direct contact on a day-to-day basis and will be able to offer advice and guidance tailored to the school requirements.

      How will the DfE ensure that the Hub services are being delivered in the best interests of schools?

      The DfE will hold regular performance reviews with the Hub providers. This is an opportunity for DfE to review the quality of service being provided. Equally, schools feedback is crucial and we will be collecting regular school feedback on service provision. School responses to periodic questionnaires will be used to further improve the services being offered and will help to scope the service to be provided during the national roll-out.

      What is the relationship between DfE and the Hubs?

      The Hubs are funded by the DfE. The service provided will be monitored to ensure that it adheres to the high standards and quality schools expect from the DfE, fully meeting the needs of its users to deliver value for money.
    • Department for Education's 'Find a Framework service'

      What is the new DfE Find a Framework service?

      The DfE Find a Framework service is a step by step guided process to help schools understand the benefits of our recommended frameworks and how to access them. Schools are presented with the most suitable framework based on their answers into the Find a Framework service. Schools will then be pointed to the providers website where they can get quotes from suppliers on the framework.

      The Find a Framework service is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/find-a-dfe-approved-framework-for-your-school

      What are the benefits to schools to using the Find a Framework service?

      The Find a Framework service is a step by step guided process to help schools find ways to buy good and services as recommended by the DfE. All deals recommended via Find a Framework are compliant with buying procedures and procurement law (OJEU) and offer value for money to schools. Each framework agreement has details of the products, services and suppliers available; an agreed pricing structure and terms and conditions and guidance on how to buy.

      Buying from a framework can be quicker and easier than getting bids or quotes because the agreements: have already been through a full competitive tender process; have been quality checked; are checked to make sure they comply with the law and may have draft specifications available.

      How are frameworks selected?

      The Schools Commercial Team (SCT) within DfE reviews a range of frameworks. These frameworks are assessed for compliance with procurement regulations, ease of use, suitability and value for money. Feedback from schools is also considered when selecting frameworks. SCT continues to review and add to the list of recommended frameworks.

      Which deals are available via Find a Framework?

      Schools using our new service can expect to find deals on: energy and utilities; facilities management and estates; financial; ICT; legal; professional; books and related materials, furniture and recruitment and HR.

    • Accessing the service and Logging In

      My school is not currently eligible to sign up to the Hub service – when can I join?

      Unfortunately, if your school is outside of our two areas in the South West and North West, you cannot participate at this stage. The plan is to trial the Schools’ Buying Hubs in those areas to help inform a potential roll out of Hubs across England, and we would welcome your involvement then.

      Can I change my account details (address, contact name, phone number) once I’ve signed up?

      Yes you can. If you go through to the ‘My Account’ page you will have the option to edit both your details and those of your school as needed.

      I’ve forgotten my login details, how do I request a reminder?

      Not to worry, you can request a password reset on our login page. Click the relevant link on the page, submit your email address and we’ll email you the details you need.
    • Website tips
      Click here to download the 'How to Guide' to make sure you get the best out of the Hub website.