The importance of Social Value in your school’s tendering


What is Social Value?

Social value is the overall value that schools, MATs, colleges and universities can gain from money that is spent on procurement. This can be from providing improvements through economic, environmental or social areas.

Social value, also referred to as ‘sustainable procurement’, should not risk good value, but should in fact demonstrate value for money.

Why is social value important for the education sector?

Chris White, the MP behind the Act, explains:

“We mean ‘value’ not in its narrow [financial] sense but in its true sense – recognising the importance of social, environmental and economic well-being across our communities and in our lives”.

Therefore, the act encourages public authorities to consider wider social and environmental benefits when purchasing services, and not only focus on the balance between price and quality.

The Social Value Act was launched in 2013 causing the public sector to change how it buys goods and services.

A study showed that 52% of public sector organisations stated that including social value in their procurement led to cost savings. This reveals a great opportunity for schools, colleges and universities to benefit from a good relationship with their suppliers.

So how does it work in the education sector?

When a school signs a new contract, they can ask prospective suppliers to consider what they would be able to offer in support of the local community; this can include anything from training, apprenticeships or simply providing career advice for students that have their sights on a specific career path.

A change needs to happen for this to be possible in the education sector. A change in the mindsets of the decision makers. They need to challenge suppliers to allow this change, only then will this begin to benefit the wider community.

There is good news, some schools, colleges and universities have already begun to campaign the change by developing strategies, policies and charters to make the commitment to deliver social value through procurement.

How social value can contribute to the community

As an example, in just the last few months, Education Buying has helped over 75 schools across the United Kingdom to deliver social value outcomes within their catering contracts ready for the new school term!

Including Social Value outcomes in your tendering has a huge positive impact on the school, pupils, and local area.

If you want to include social value in your school tenders and don’t know where to start, get in touch with our procurement experts.  

What can Social Value look like?

Social value can present itself in many ways. Every procurement process is unique, but the social value should be relevant to the contract. Here are some social value themes that you may typically see:

Typical social value themes connected to contracts

The Social Value model

To make it easier to identify areas to contribute to social value, the government have developed a ‘social value model’. The Social Value Model sets out government’s social value priorities for procurement. This model includes five themes and eight policy outcomes, which flow with these themes.

How is Social Value governed?

Public authorities within the UK are encouraged to include social value into their awarded contracts. Scotland, Wales, and England have been the main drivers for social value in the UK.


  • Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014
  • Scottish Procurement Policy Note 05/2016 / Community Benefits in Public Procurement: guidance note
  • Northern Ireland
  • Procurement Guidance Note – 01/13
  • Social Value Legislation is being Lobbied
  • Scottish Procurement Policy Note – 10/2020


  • Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015
  • Wales Procurement Policy Statement / Community Benefits Policy / Procurement Policy Note – 10/12
  • Procurement Policy Note – 06/20
  • Wales Procurement Policy Note – 01/20


  • Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012
  • Procurement Policy Note – 10/12
  • Procurement Policy Note – 06/20

How do you embed Social Value in your catering & cleaning?

Social value should be included as part of the assessed award criteria when running a Further Competition.

Many Further Competition templates have this included, generally there will be a question that will ask you to detail how you intend on delivering social value to the area of the schools included in the contract.

Including social value when assessing the award criteria allows you to have an ‘output’ specification. It offers an opportunity for suppliers to suggest outcomes that will be innovative, flexible and proportionate to the contract.

Here are some examples of social value within educational catering and cleaning services.


  • Use of Class II ‘ugly’ fruit and veg to avoid waste.
  • Recycle cooking oil into biofuel.
  • Environmentally friendly chemicals (where possible).
  • AAA rated items when sourcing new equipment.
  • Discourage single-use plastic – take away cutlery is wooden or paper.
  • Help build worm farms at school site for composting.
  • Re-useable water bottles implemented (and purchased) for all students.
  • Use of organic produce.
  • Planting of trees for every £ spent etc.


  • Vegetable gardens grown within the school, with the help of students, and the produce is used within the menu.
  • Install food digestion equipment so that all waste can be digested and released into drainage, reducing waste disposal costs.
  • Buying produce from local suppliers.
  • Avoid use of agency staff and aim to recruit locally.
  • National Living wage paid to employees.


  • Source food from accredited suppliers (e.g. Food for Life).
  • Donation of excess food to local charities.
  • Student council groups to look at recycling initiatives etc.
  • Gardening and cookery clubs.
  • Health, Nutrition and Wellbeing days.
  • Healthy eating assemblies.
  • ‘Kitchen sessions’ run with nutritionists.
  • Offer work experience to people with disabilities.
  • Delivery of food hampers to those students in need during school closures.
  • Sponsorship of local/school sports teams.

Including Social Value outcomes in your tendering has a huge positive impact on the school, pupils, and local area.

If you want to include social value in your school tenders and don’t know where to start, get in touch with our procurement experts.