Participation Agreement

Regional Schools’ Buying Hub

Service User Participation Agreement

The Regional Schools’ Buying Hubs will provide procurement and purchasing expertise and specialist advice to help deliver better value to the participating eligible schools in the regions.

In return, all participants need to agree to the following

  1. We fully understand and accept/agree on behalf of the school to all our responsibilities as set out within this Participation Agreement and the Service Statement/Roles and Responsibilities document.
  2. We understand that the services being provided by the Regional Schools’ Buying Hub (“the Hub”) shall not in any way affect our obligations to comply with EU procurement law and Department guidance including but not limited to the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and the Academies Financial Handbook 2019 (and any other guidance the Department would like to explicitly refer to). For the avoidance of doubt, the Department shall bear no liability to any participants as a result of their use of the Regional Schools’ Buying Hubs.
  3. We understand that the Hub services are provided on the basis that there is full Governing Body/Trust approval to do so at every relevant stage of the procurement process.
  4. We understand that the services offered and/or provided by the Hub are wholly funded by the Department for Education (the Department) and may be varied without notice or be withdrawn at any time. Whilst the Department will endeavour to communicate these changes, such changes may occur at short notice and without consultation.
  5. By requesting support from the Hub, We agree to provide any reasonably required information (including financial) or feedback as requested by the Department or its contractors, from time to time and understand that such information is vital in assessing the effectiveness and impact of the service delivery.
  6. We will, where appropriate, share relevant details of the school’s non-pay spend current contracts and procurement activities undertaken in the past 12 months. This will enable the Department providers to continuously improve the services offered and identify opportunity for aggregated contracting.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If the Hub does not receive a signed copy of the Participation Agreement but you continue to use the Regional Schools’ Buying Hub, you are deemed to have accepted the terms of the Participation Agreement.

Regional Schools’ Buying Hub

Buying Service – Service Statement/Roles and Responsibilities

This document sets out the way that the Hub and the School(s) will work together.

The Hub acts on behalf of the school (or MAT) and will never be the “Contracting Authority”; therefore, there will be no contractual obligations between the Hub and the successful supplier for any procurement.  The Hub does not receive any benefit from suppliers, either via a rebate or any other mechanism.

The Hub does not provide legal advice.  However, it can provide advice for you about how to obtain this if required.

Role of the Hub

The Hub will act on behalf of the school, providing as much or as little support as required which may be to provide comprehensive end-to-end buying support for goods and services.  The resulting contract will be between the school (contracting authority) and the successful supplier (contractor).

The Hub will receive a request for help or will identify an opportunity to a school.

  1. The Hub will ensure that the procurement is fully compliant with regulations
  2. The Hub will work with the school in assessing the level of support required
  3. The Hub will request a level of information from the school to enable them to develop a specification and all other appropriate tender documentation
  4. The Hub will develop and advise a procurement plan
  5. The Hub will develop a specification or list of requirements
  6. The Hub will discuss procurement routes with the school
  7. The Hub will ensure that the tender documents are made available to providers via the agreed route and manage and answer any clarifications with the help of the school
  8. The Hub will ensure that evaluation planning is completed and communicated to the school
  9. The Hub will ensure that the evaluation of bids is completed in a compliant manner, providing evaluation panel members as required
  10.  The Hub will ensure completion of the moderation process to ensure consensus agreement of the outcome
  11.  The Hub will ensure that all bidders are appropriately and compliantly informed of the outcomes of the evaluation
  12.  The Hub will ensure that all contract documentation is completed
  13.  If at any point in the process the Hub believes that the school is either not engaging in a timely manner or wishes to pursue a non-compliant or illegal process then the Hub has the right to withdraw from the procurement. In this instance, the Hub will provide appropriate advice to the school before withdrawing.

Role of the School

The school is the contracting party with the successful supplier.  They will be responsible for own and manage the contract at the end of the procurement, so it is important for them to be involved as much as possible; however, there are certain key points at which the procurement will not be progressed without school agreement.

  1. The school will ensure at the start of the process that funding is available to sign the contract at the end of the procurement
  2. In accordance with their own policies and procedures, the school has full Governing Body/Trust approval to undertake this procurement process and will ensure that all appropriate approvals are secured at every relevant stage of the procurement process, including but not limited to, project plan, specification, communications, evaluation strategy, evaluation outcome and notification to bidders, finalised contract
  3. The school must ensure that all information provided to the Hub is correct/accurate
  4. The school will need an individual nominated contact point to be used for all communications, this will normally be the person with responsibility for sign off at all stages of the procurement and the completed contract
  5. The school will agree the timescales on the project plan
  6. The school will provide the level of detail required by the Hub to enable them to begin the engagement process
  7. The school will input to and sign off the completed specification
  8. For aggregated procurements, schools will agree to work collaboratively to a joint plan and process, each responsible for providing their requirements to the Hub
  9. The school will input to and sign off the evaluation strategy
  10.  The school will provide at least one nominated individual (preferably the key contact point) to be part of the evaluation team for the procurement
  11.  The school will have to sign off their agreement to the evaluation outcome and notification to bidders
  12.  The school will have to sign the contract with the winning/successful bidder
  13.  The school will manage the contract for its duration
  14.  If the school shares any data with the Hub, it is the school’s responsibility to ensure compliance with the GDPR and Data Protection regulations 2018, which the Hub can advise on.

Process description

  1. A school (or MAT) will approach the Hub to request help with a procurement, or when working with a school the Hub may identify a buying opportunity, where a school requires help.
  2. The Hub will request details, which will enable them to develop a specification or list of requirements, which will be used as the basis of the procurement. Until this level of detail has been received, the Hub will not perform any further activity to progress the procurement.
  3. The Hub will work with the school in assessing the level of support required which may lead to some sections below being omitted.
  4. The Hub will develop a procurement plan including timescales. This will need to be agreed by the school before progressing to the next stage.
  5. The Hub will develop a specification from information previously collected from the school.
  6. Once the Hub has completed the specification, the school is required to agree this and sign it off before the Hub can move to the next stage.
  7. Following consultation, a procurement route will be agreed between the school and the Hub.
  8. The Hub will then develop the evaluation strategy and questions. The school will sign this off ensuring themselves that the plan will provide the required outcome.
  9. Once all tender documents have been completed, the Hub will ensure that the procurement continues using the agreed procurement route. This will involve management of all communications with suppliers, some of which may require input from the school.
  10.  The school will provide a minimum of one person as part of the tender evaluation team (may vary for an aggregated procurement and will be advised by the Hub).
  11.  Once the Hub has completed the evaluation process, they will develop an evaluation report. The school will sign-off the report before contract award notifications are released, detailing the winning and losing bidders.
  12.  The school will then sign the contract and manage the contract from that point, including all payments for goods and services. Advice on contract management issues is available via the Hub.