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funding building work at a primary school

(3 Posts)
manechanger Thu 29-Jun-17 11:18:42

Just trying to understand how schools fund building work. So I'm new to the PTA & we've raised ok money in the last couple of months. School want to get new play equipment which is great but it seems each item is much much more expensive than if I just google the cost. apparently it's because they want to use approved contractors. Please could someone explain how a (non academy) school is restricted by using approved contractors and whether there is any wriggle room??

We've got an item which costs about £400 being quoted at £3k plus installation. I understand the installation might not be done by any tom or dick but the supply as long as it meets standards doesn't make any sense to a lay person.

I don't want people to stop donating because we have inflated prices but don't want to be causing arguments with the SLT for no reason either.
Thanks very much.

admission Thu 29-Jun-17 12:04:09

I am afraid that this is an old problem that will never be sorted until schools are prepared to stand up and be counted. Maintained schools get a relatively a small amount of money each year for capital works. They are expected to in any financial decision consider best value, which should be not only price but quality of product and known information about the supplier as how they have performed on previous projects. If we are talking about say a £10K project then the school would be expected to get 3 quotes and then decide on best value.
Many LAs set up approved contractors lists on the basis that they are a known quantity in terms of capability and in giving best value, so for many schools the easiest option is to use the approved contractor list. However as you have realised it can become an easy way for the approved contractors to inflate prices. I do have to say that your example seems a very high differential and I wonder whether you are comparing like with like. However I have seen plenty of examples where the price is twice going to an "outside" contractor with the same play equipment.
To a great extent the decision needs to be about where the funding for the project is coming from. If it is from the LA then in reality you have little choice but to use an "approved supplier" however as in your example where the PTA is providing the cash I do not see any reason why the school cannot do their own work to find a suitable supplier. Yes they obviously then have to accept responsibility that it is to an approved standard and for anything that goes wrong but good planning and preparation will reduce that to minimal problems in most instances. If the school has their own school business manager then these kind of £10K maximum projects should be being led by the SBM in conjunction with the head teacher and governing board.

manechanger Thu 29-Jun-17 12:31:04

Hi, thanks I've sent you a pm as don't want to out myself online. I don't want to be arguing with them and causing bad feeling if I'm wrong and would really appreciate some advice from someone who knows. I think it's probably not worth me pursuing it further. I am dealing with BM and head.

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