Acer Trust was formed in early 2017 having previously been a single school Multi Academy Trust (West Oxford Schools Trust). They are now a multi academy trust of seven Oxfordshire based schools; currently they have four primary schools and three secondary schools in the Trust. The plan for the Trust is to drive for constant improvement in the quality of educational experience for every learner in the family of schools. The founding partner schools in the formation of the Acer Trust were Icknield Community College, Watlington; Wood Green School, Witney; Chalgrove Community Primary School and Matthew Arnold School, Oxford. Stadhampton Primary School joined the Acer Trust in February 2019. Watlington Primary School joined in August 2019 and Botley Primary School joined in March 2020.
Having worked with the Trust in the past, Minerva was invited to submit a proposal to run this tender and were successful in winning the opportunity to run the PCR compliant process for the Trust.
The catering project was run as one tender process with seven Lots, each Lot being one of the schools as it was the desire of the Trust for each school to be able to make their own decision independently of the other schools. In addition, two of the schools were operating their catering in-house and so wanted to have the option to remain doing this, if that decision was felt to be the best one.
Due to the ‘whole life value’ of the contract, the project was set up as a Public Contracts Regulations(2015) ‘Restricted procedure’ compliant process. This is a two-stage process comprising an initial Selection Questionnaire(SQ) stage and a secondary Invitation to Tender (ITT) stage. The key requirement from the Trust was to gain interest from a wide selection of catering contractors, including all of the incumbents, to maximise the choice for each school.
At the start of the process there were 13 expressions of interest which resulted in eight formal submissions at the SQ stage. These were scored and then the top five bidders were taken through to the ITT stage where they submitted detailed responses along with their pricing proposals for the schools.
Across the seven Lots of this project, it was decided to take all five bidders through to presentation day, however one bidder did unfortunately drop out very late in the process so there were only four bidders in attendance on the day. The day was a great success and the schools had ample opportunity to question each bidder and sample the food on offer, which is always a nice bonus with catering tenders!
At the end of the process five out of the seven Lots were awarded and the two sites who currently have in-house service provision opted to keep their services in-house. This was a very challenging tender to run which certainly kept us on our toes and also kept us very busy!
Lorraine and her team provided invaluable support for this process, which was challenging for a variety of internal factors. Minerva were flexible and accommodating despite our challenges and I am confident in the result we achieved.
Jamie Wade, Chief Operating Officer, Acer Trust