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Showcasing frameworks recommended by the DfE

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By Ashley Cox

Crescent Purchasing Consortium (CPC) has grown into one of the largest, UK-wide procurement consortiums, with no fewer than 10,000 members enjoying access to more than 80 compliant purchasing frameworks and an array of consultancy support services. Registered CPC members can also benefit from free learning and development, as well as funding opportunities from the 'Giving Back' initiative.

In its 25th anniversary year, CPC announced an ambitious brand harmonisation to bring the expert procurement consultancy of Tenet Education Services and charitable efforts of the CPL Group all under the same CPC banner.

This merger solidified the Greater Manchester-based consortium as a one-stop shop for procurement frameworks, consultancy, learning and development, with a flagship 'Giving Back' funding initiative that continues to support projects and purchases for educational establishments around the UK.

With 17 of CPC’s purchasing frameworks recommended by the Department for Education (DfE), institutions can utilise CPC’s professional support for better procurement in a variety of categories. The easy-to-use frameworks can take some of the stress and strain out of your school or academy’s purchasing process, connecting you with vetted suppliers, while targeting superior value for money.

The DfE’s respective recommendations serve to validate each of these frameworks as having suitably impressed the Schools Commercial Team (SCT). The SCT assesses a number of nominated purchasing agreements for their suitability, simplicity, compliance and value, while considering school feedback.

From software to sports pitches, library resources to legal services, your institution may well benefit from one or more of these CPC frameworks, with further information on each available via the links below.

Let’s take a whistle-stop tour of the CPC frameworks that have achieved the DfE seal of approval…

CPC’s Audio Visual Equipment and Installation Services framework covers equipment supply and installation alike, enabling full service from purchase to plug-in. This agreement spans an extensive range of audio-visual resources, from projection and display to amplification and recording devices.

With built-in futureproofing measures, CPC’s Audit Services framework provides a series of regional lots that can provide those crucially compliant internal and external auditing and assurance services, with corporate governance statements and financial health assessments falling within its remit.

Servicing a tentpole category of any education establishment’s procurement planning, CPC’s Building Cleaning framework is equipped to help you meet your cleaning challenges, head-on. From one-off jobs to holiday deep cleans, this agreement shines up solutions, in and out of term.

The Corporate Software & Related Products and Services framework encompasses software for financial management, human resources and payroll, with the option of a lot that covers all three. CPC members can also procure new CRM and management information systems via the agreement.

Those in search of ICT Hardware and Peripherals Equipment can likewise entrust CPC’s relevant framework, with up to 15 approved suppliers per lot and a host of desktop PC solutions, portable device provisions and Apple-specific products within reach via direct award or further competition.

Staying in the realm of information and communications technology, CPC’s ICT Networking and Storage Solutions agreement is another compliant route to market for institutions to explore, with its three lots focusing on on-premise solutions, cloud-based technology and consultancy options.

Insurance and Associated Services for Academies & Schools meanwhile is a framework tailored to those specific institutions, unlike many CPC agreements that extend to the higher education sector. From personal accident to cyber risk, this offering can connect institutions to appropriate coverage.

Launched in 2022, CPC’s Legal Services framework soon joined the list of those recommended by the DfE and can act as a compliant and user friendly gateway to this potentially daunting field, with CPC’s members able to invoke an extensive array of legal services, spanning small to high value examples.

Continuing to do things by the book, CPC’s regulatory compliance remains steadfast through its Library Resources and Associated Services agreement, which compiles everything from traditional books, newspapers and journals to contemporary eBooks, learning aids and library discovery tools.

Modern learning resources aplenty can be procured using CPC’s Multifunctional Devices and Digital Transformation Solutions framework, which allows for the purchasing or rental of relevant MFDs for photocopying, printing and scanning tasks, as well as a good number of adjacent services/resources.

Meanwhile, CPC’s latest Outsourced Catering Services agreement can dish up providers of fresh and healthy foods across the United Kingdom, with 16 regional lots catering to large academy trusts and 16 others that cater to smaller trusts, academies and schools, incorporating some 36 suppliers in all.

Keeping the focus on outsourced services, the Outsourced ICT framework hosts local and UK-wide managed service providers (or MSPs), with the expertise to manage your institution’s ICT provision by way of on-site and remote service solutions. A consultancy lot is also included in the framework.

Another agreement to specifically serve school and academies, the Software Licenses & Associated Services for Academies and Schools framework can assist with the acquiring of Microsoft, Adobe and Google licenced products, as well as miscellaneous, off the shelf, education-centric software.

Elsewhere, CPC can also present a DfE-recommended Staff Absence Protection & Reimbursement framework, facilitating compliant purchasing from a selection of market leaders, with flexible policy options that may be shaped to meet the requests and requirements of your particular institution(s).

In addition, CPC’s affiliated Utilities Supplies & Services agreement provides a recommended option for institutions looking to renew contracts, with a scope including on-site generation, metered and unmetered water supply, energy efficiency solutions and building energy management software.

One of its most recent recommendations, for those in demand of updated Communication Solutions for their school or academy can entrust CPC to link them to an approved selection of suppliers, with the reductions in procurement timescales complementing four distinct lots, as well as a one-stop shop.

Finally, CPC’s HR, Payroll & Employee Screening framework facilitates access to a comprehensive range of related offerings, promising a complete suite, with specific lots spanning the provision of HR services, payroll services and employee screening services, as well as DBS and criminal record checks. 

The sheer variety of these 17 CPC frameworks recommended by the DfE affirms the consortium’s ability to deliver well-constructed solutions for its members across a range of fields and categories.

Much like more than 10,000 others in the UK education community, your institution can become a CPC member, free of charge, initiating access to not only these purchasing frameworks but a host of further useful information and free resources, including CPC’s Regional Procurement Advisors (RPAs).

With goal of improving procurement knowledge and expertise at schools, academies and beyond, CPC is the facilitator of a number of regionally focused Procurement Advisory Groups who convene on a regular basis to discuss relevant procurement issues and share best practice ideas.

Moreover, with the impending arrival of new public contract regulations in October of 2024, CPC is home to a new Procurement Taskforce, helmed by Learning & Development Lead and seasoned procurement professional, Mark Pearson, who carries more than 35 years of experience in the field.

Mark and his team will be on hand to help institutions in the months leading up to Procurement Act 2023’s full legislative introduction, while our own integrated consultancy wing, Crescent Consultancy (previously Tenet Education Services) is all ready to discuss your options for added specialist support.

Join Crescent Purchasing Consortium for free to activate access to the 17 CPC frameworks approved by the UK Department for Education. Regular updates can meanwhile be found via CPC’s social media on LinkedIn and X.

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