Wolverley CE Secondary School is a voluntary controlled co-educational secondary school based in Wolverley, Worcestershire. The school, with sixth form provision caters for upwards of 800 pupils aged 11 to 18 and is over-subscribed. The Head believes every pupil should have ‘Ambition Unlimited’ and this is underpinned by a Christian ethos and family atmosphere at the school.
The School Business Manager, Anthony Derrer, had made enquiries for recommendations for procurement support via the online forum for the Worcestershire Association of School Business Managers (WASBM). Minerva was an organisation that had been put forward by several members of the Association.
Having pursued a number of potential service providers, Minerva was chosen as their preferred partner to support them through the project.
The school found themselves in the position of needing to tender both their outsourced catering and cleaning tenders at the same time. In addition, the timeline to complete the tenders was unbelievably tight. Minerva was only appointed in the February for a contract commencement date of 1 August! This is a very short timetable for not one but two complex contracts. However, we agreed that we would get it done!
Both contracts exceeded the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 thresholds of £189,330 (cleaning) and £663,540 (catering) meaning a fully compliant PCR2015 tender would need to be run. Therefore a two-stage ‘Restricted Procedure’ was agreed comprising Selection Questionnaire (SQ) and Invitation to Tender (ITT) stages.
To expedite matters, and to keep costs as low as possible, Minerva recommended a ‘Lotted’ tender. This allowed one overarching tender process with two Lots – one for catering and one for cleaning. This had the added benefit of enabling bidders to submit for just one Lot or both, if they wish.
The school was very keen to ensure that ‘best value’ was achieved in both spend areas but also, in line with the school ethos, that the pupils benefited from the best possible service provision – maintaining the status quo was not required!
Once the project objectives and set up were agreed Minerva provided the school with detailed checklists for both the catering and cleaning services. This enabled the school to easily understanding the vast amount of detailed information that bidders would require. From these checklists Minerva then drafted all of the relevant tender documents for the school including the Memorandum of Information (MoI), Selection Questionnaire (SQ) and Invitation to Tender (ITT).
The school took the opportunity to also take advantage of the Minerva precedent legal agreements for both catering and cleaning, thus enabling them to access very cost effective contracts which were tailored to their own requirements.
The cleaning Lot had the added complexity of an unusual (GAD) pension arrangement which needed to be converted to LGPS Admitted Body Status for the successful bidder. Minerva was able to facilitate access to a specialist pensions lawyer to advise the school in this complex area.
In addition to writing the tender documents, facilitating both site visits, draft scoring the SQ and ITT submissions Minerva was also heavily involved in two days of presentations for the six (three per Lot) shortlisted bidders at ITT stage.
The school were absolutely delighted with the results of the tender process. In respect of the cleaning tender five bids were received at the ITT stage meaning a wide choice of service provider. There was a slight increase in costs from current levels with the winning bidder but very much in alignment with increases in labour and pension costs. However, the school were impressed with the winning bidder’s submission particularly in terms of the ‘employee ownership’ of the business, the environmental credentials and importantly the very close proximity to the school of the local Area Manager.
The catering tender had four submissions at the ITT stage so, again, excellent choice and variety on offer from the bidders. The school was particularly interested in the views of the pupils who supported the tender process by attending the presentation day, sampling the food, asking questions of the bidders and providing feedback to the panel. The panel and pupils were unanimous in their decision on who to award the contract to due to a combination of environmental and sustainability credentials, healthy and tasty food offering excellent nutritional value and, key for the school, a tariff which was totally inclusive for Free School Meal (FSM) pupils. The icing on the cake, therefore, was a financial package which took the school from a ‘nil cost’ contract to a forecast surplus of more than £45,000 in the first three years.
Lorraine and the team where superb throughout. They were the clear choice at the start based on the costs and the explanation of the support package on offer. We have been delighted with the management of the process throughout, even on a very tight timeline we managed to secure both catering and cleaning contracts in a cost effective manner. Lorraine was always good to work with, I trusted her guidance at all times and never felt pulled or pushed in any particular direction, it was always about what was best for our school. The outcome of the process is that we have two new companies that we believe will benefit our school and its students greatly over the coming few years. I would recommend Minerva to colleagues without reservation and have already done this on a number of occasions. We will definitely use Minerva in future.
Ant Derrer, School Business Manager