Saint Cecilia’s Church of England School is a co-educational comprehensive school for pupils aged 11-18 years in the Diocese of Southwark and the London Borough of Wandsworth. It opened as a voluntary aided school in September 2003 and grew incrementally until reaching a full set of year groups in the 2007/2008 academic year.
The school converted to academy status in March 2015. They now have over 900 pupils on roll, expanded by one form of entry in September 2020, and will be growing by 30 pupils per year for seven years. The expansion will be accommodated in two new buildings providing an additional six new classrooms and a dining space.
School budgets have tightened significantly over the past few years and as a result Business Managers have had to become increasingly innovative in their approach in order to ensure they are achieving ‘best value’ for their products and services. The ‘best value’ they look to achieve is a combination of excellent service and competitive pricing.
There are existing framework arrangements available to schools, but it has been shown that these don’t always offer the best value for money. Whilst it is acknowledged that the contracts in place do offer schools excellent protection, versus some of the more onerous commercial contracts, many schools wish to include incumbent suppliers in the tender process who are not part of a framework arrangement.
One such area is the provision of reprographics equipment and associated services.
Having been involved in a number of procurement projects with Saint Cecilia’s Church of England School, Minerva was asked to tender for these services on behalf of the school. The contract was due to commence in July 2020, the duration of the contract was 3 years.
The total contract value for the school’s Reprographics and Associated Services provision was below the OJEU threshold of £189,330* (at the start of the tender process) and therefore did not require a procurement process which meets EU procurement legislation. As a result, a closed ‘Invitation only’ one-stage Request for Proposal (RFP) process was conducted.
The school required a supplier to provide Reprographics Equipment and services including, but not limited to:
- Provision of Multi-Functional Devices
- Device repair and maintenance
- Supply of consumables
- Print management capability
The project aimed to achieve the following strategic objectives:
- Consistency of approach and provision
- Cost saving
- Staff to be fully trained to enable more effective print management
- Efficiency of delivery
- GDPR compliance
* OJEU has subsequently been replaced by the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and the threshold has also changed since the time this project was undertaken.
In line with the closed nature of the tender procedure, six suppliers were invited to submit a tender response. The suppliers were chosen via a combination of:
- organisations who have previously approached Saint Cecilia’s
- suggestions by Minerva
- the incumbent supplier at Saint Cecilia’s
- the incumbent supplier for Saint Cecilia’s ‘partner’ school
From the six suppliers which registered to view the opportunity, four suppliers provided a completed RFP submission. An RFP evaluation was completed and scored initially by Minerva and subsequently moderated by the school. It was agreed that a presentation day was not required in order to make a decision on the preferred bidder.
The tenders were assessed on a ‘Most Economically Advantageous Tender’ (MEAT) basis. The winning bidder submitted the most advantageous bid, with the lowest cost, and the highest scored RFP submission overall. The supplier demonstrated a thorough and well thought out approach to the services for the school. Their understanding of the requirements of the school and the number of local engineers were particularly highly regarded, as was their commitment to working in partnership with the school to achieve a good level of service. In addition, there were some extremely good references received which gave comfort that the service would be delivered as described in the bid.
Of great importance was the substantial cost saving to the school. Over the duration of the contract Saint Cecilia’s will be realising savings of around £180,000 which will enable them to plough funds back into other areas of the school budget offering much greater benefit to the pupils.
I have been working with Minerva for seven years and I always use them for the more complex tenders. They work in the best interests of the school and get to understand our culture so they always find the right partners and with great prices. They have literally saved us hundreds of thousands of pounds with a deep market knowledge that I could never expect to replicate in house.
Dave Cobb, Saint Cecilia’s Church of England School