The Department for Education has called all schools to come together and pool their resources in order to procure enough tablet computers to warrant a discount from suppliers. The ‘sector collective buying power’ that the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) is proposing could negotiate a substantial discount after a pilot ‘procurement’ on a smaller scale saw around 12% saved.
Tablets that the DfE are offering are the Apple iPad, the Microsoft Surface Pro, LearnPad and other generic tablets. The CCS will asses the criteria of each school individually and they say they will work together with schools to accurately meet their needs. There is a significant difference between a generic tablet and an iPad or Surface Pro, so the criteria will focus largely on whether a school can afford to spend more on such an expensive device, or whether a less expensive device is a safer option to help avoid theft. There is however ‘security marking’ offered which involves laser cutters and UV ink that permanently mark tablets. There are also charging stations and protective covers offered for more specific needs.
For a successful procurement, the very lowest number of devices that will have to be ordered is 500. Schools are urged to register as soon as possible so that a figure can be calculated before the deadline which is the 24th May. The DfE says that schools should register their interest before the 6th May. The tablets should arrive before the academic year starts in September.
The procurement will happen autonomously as the CSS will organise everything and set up helplines and webinars so schools can track the progress of the order. One representative from Bournemouth Primary School has this to say about the pilot procurement, “the process was simple and we were assured by the fact that we were purchasing from an approved supplier operating under the framework’s terms and conditions.” GOV.UK
Webinars can be attended on the CCS website from the 4th May to the 18th, 12.30pm Wednesday and 3.30pm Monday. Registration is required.