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What You Need to Know

School purchases can be made using several different methods: written orders, telephone orders, internet orders, purchasing card and imprest account.  This section is about orders placed for which an invoice is issued. It is important, when you place an order, that you achieve best value.  This does not necessarily mean the cheapest (quality, availability, reliability and aftercare, amongst other factors, should also be considered).  It is also important that Standing Orders as to Contracts and Financial Instructions are complied with.  Restrictions are not placed on schools as to which suppliers they can use, but schools are advised to ensure, as far as practically possible, that the supplier is legitimate and reputable, as use of a supplier is at the School’s risk. 

The Rules

Standing Orders as to contracts

Financial Instructions FI, F2, F3, F4, F6, F9, F15

What You Need to Do

  • Each time an order is placed, the School should ensure that the best value is being achieved (take into account cost, availability, urgency of need, locality of supplier etc) – it is not best practice to continue to use the same supplier for goods/services if you have not researched alternatives.
  • Prior to placing an order with a supplier, checks must be made to ensure that sufficient funds are available to cover the cost of the purchase
  • Orders should only be placed with a reputable supplier – if the school has not used the supplier before, contact the Local Authority/other school(s) to establish reputation
  • All orders placed (including by phone, internet or suppliers order form) should be recorded on FMS as a commitment.

Orders made using an official purchasing card need not be recorded as an order on FMS, but should be noted as in the Purchasing Card guidance Purchasing card guidelines

  • Payment should not be made at the ordering stage – it should only be made when the goods/services have been received, except when using Purchasing Card which offers some payment protection, or when making minor purchases using the imprest account.  Where unavoidable, such pre-payments are at the school’s own risk and therefore should be kept to a minimum.
  • Standing Orders must be complied with for all purchases, please ensure you are aware of the purchasing limits and the procedures that must be followed.
  • Orders need to be authorised on FMS, the order printed and signed by the authorised signatory.  The authorised paper order needs to be retained in school for 7 years.
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