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Recently hundreds of schools across England were forcibly closed due to a teachers strike on Tuesday, in a long-running dispute with the government over “underfunding”.
Many schools have shut down completely or partially with teachers not showing up for lessons. ‘The National Union of Teachers’ (Britain’s largest teachers union) stated that “school budgets were not keeping pace with rising costs”.
However here at Market Dojo we believe that by implementing changes to their procurement department they could potentially recover savings that amount to the spending per pupil fall of 8% by 2020, as the analysis from the Institute of Fiscal Studies indicates.
Why? Because schools are fundamentally about educating children and not buying effectively. Typically their systems and processes in place are outdated, having seen little change to their buying behaviour in recent years. While in many small schools around the country they don’t even the resources of a single individual to manage their procurement.
Why Schools Find Procurement Challenging
Systems and processes
Lack of aggregation of spend via Buying Clubs
What Can School’s do?
To conclude, although there are factors which English Schools can’t change. Schools still have the ability to make a number of changes to their procurement department which could potentially recover savings from their current expenditure. Aiding schools at a time where we might still see a potential decline in government spending on pupils.
To start with Schools can improve their procurement department by developing their internal resources such as hiring an individual procurement specialists that is responsible for all decisions to do with overall category spending. Hire procurement professionals to assist in the daily running’s of the procurement department and to specifically analyse current expenditure. Schools could also implement procurement systems which would allow them to better manage their contracts and assist in basic procurement functions. They would also need to organise a procurement strategy that is based on some form of return on investment and use school buying clubs to maximise the value of their expenditure.
It is acknowledged however there would be major obstacles to be overcome, such as calculating the value of expenditure in proportion to educational benefits. Definition of the new procurement processes, the costs involved with training for both existing as well as new staff to implement the new processes. Another issue would be the management of buying clubs, their management would need to be from an external individual who can collate and managing spend of multiple schools without favouring a particular view. This means that buying club agreements are selected to be suitable for all sizes and types of schools as well as agreed upon by each of the schools to ensure their fulfilment of the agreements.
Although the changes implemented will require investment at a time when schools have limited budgets. Here at Market Dojo we still believe that an 8% saving on expenditure by 2020 is a realistic target that can be achieved in the time frame and if teachers received greater support for their procurement needs, it could present a real benefit to those teachers and the education system as a whole in England.
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