The parent company of The TES, TSL Education, has bought and today relaunches a major online tendering website for schools.
TES BuyWire - previously known as Schoolquote - will this morning start its first purchasing "storm". This will see thousands of secondaries and primaries pooling their paper requirements to buy in bulk through the website.
The last time this was undertaken by Schoolquote, 28,000 reams of paper were bought, with an average saving of 22 per cent.
Established in 2004, Schoolquote, which is endorsed by the Department for Education, became a well-known buying tool in the education sector and had 1,200 registered users.
TES BuyWire will develop and expand Schoolquote's three main procurement services, all of which are free for schools:
- a secure and efficient method for getting quotes from competing suppliers;
- the ability to search and use quotes that have previously been sent to fellow buyers;
- the "storm" service, which allows schools to achieve economies of scale when buying goods.
It is this last service that TSL Education managing director Bill Donoghue said was the most exciting.
"By leveraging our brand, I believe we can save schools money," he said. "Thousands will use the platform to nationally procure. We are looking to say to schools, this is how much we are saving, and build them a league table showing where the savings are. We will even go out and buy playgrounds and minibuses - anything schools buy."
Mr Donoghue also said that the "current climate" for schools - the freedoms associated with academy status and the state of public finances - mean that economies of scale will be essential in the education sector.
"Schools are getting more sophisticated as buyers these days, but the challenge is really getting value for money," he said. "If you are an individual academy you will be spending more (on procurement) than if you are a bunch of schools. The timing is good to make this service a success."
For more details, see pages 16-17.