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Energy for Schools: guidance for a complex market with DfE approval

By Focus | Posted November 05, 2015

Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and the Department for Education (DfE) have joined forces to give schools quicker, easier access to the best energy deals.

Across the public sector, energy is a significant spending priority for schools; but knowledge and experience of managing energy contracts varies widely. As the DfE told CCS, this can put schools at risk of signing up to contracts which are non-compliant or have excessive hidden costs.

CCS set out to better understand what schools need from an energy procurement partner through a series of focus groups. The results were that they said they wanted a simple core service which was easy to access and gave them good value.
The sessions also revealed gaps in awareness:
•    many in the sector didn’t know about the CCS frameworks
•    those working with energy brokers and other intermediaries weren’t aware of the full service available with the CCS aggregated deals.

But awareness wasn’t the schools’ only barrier; specialist energy language and terminology made the CCS frameworks themselves difficult to understand for anyone who wasn’t an energy expert. CCS adapted their communications materials based on the focus group findings and advice from the DfE. To save schools paying for independent legal advice, the DfE also approved the terms and conditions of the CCS Customer Access Agreement.

To address the awareness issue, CCS developed new schools-specific communications explaining more clearly the benefits of its deals and how to access them. The DfE has endorsed and published its endorsement to the new materials, not least by distributing them directly to schools through the Education Funding Agency newsletter.

To make sure schools knew about the improved deals available to them, CCS also promoted the changes through its own newsletters, mailers and speaking appearances – for example, at the Academies Shows in London and Birmingham, which were key events for the sector. CCS have even gone one step further, helping ALL schools get the best energy deal with the publication of guidance for schools about the right questions to ask when working with an energy broker [PDF]

The DfE’s spokesperson said of the partnership between CCS and the DfE. “We continue to work together to refine the process and understand schools’ issues in accessing the Energy for Schools deals.”

Energy for Schools is just one of the ways CCS supports the public sector. Visit the .Gov website to find out more about how CCS provides the best deals. You can also visit the Save section to find out how you can make savings though a Personalised Savings Plan or through energy efficiency.


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