Schools of today are expected to be equipped with the latest computing technology, ranging anywhere from computers to printers and interactive whiteboards. The iPad is the must thing in education today. Not only does technology offer students of all ages a diverse and enjoyable learning experience, knowing how to utilise it is fast becoming a vital skill in a world where arguably everything is “done by computer”.
Largely stemming from the budget cuts of more recent governments, there is no longer the cash in existence to pay directly for vast quantities of new and expensive equipment. Evidence of this can be seen in 2010, which saw the coalition abolish the Specialist Schools Programme. Brought in by the Labour government, this gave schools an extra £130 per pupil as a means of encouraging subject specialisation. As a result of such measures, schools have been looking at alternative methods of funding and leasing has become a popular route though one that needs careful clarification as there are many Do’s and Don’ts.
So, what exactly is leasing? Put simply, leasing is a financial contract between the customer and the company in question. Via monthly or quarterly direct debit payments the former is able to essentially “rent” equipment from the latter. With schools, however, the process is perceived as confusing. Taboos such as long and restrictive contracts alongside the more recent stories uncovered by BBC’s Panorama, which saw 169 schools sign “dodgy” contracts with 10 head teachers resigning or suffering from suspension as a result, have led the government to provide their own rules and guidelines in regards to what schools can and cannot do in terms of undertaking lease agreements.
Let us explore the Government advice in an attempt to undo such confusion and put leasing for schools in a much clearer perspective. The first and perhaps most important regulation is that schools are only allowed to enter into what is known as an Operating Lease. This is where the risks and rewards of the agreement are not transferred directly to the lessee. If this does occur, the lease becomes a “Finance lease”. These are illegal for schools to enter into without direct permission from the Secretary of State as they are considered to be a form of borrowing. But it doesn’t just stop there.
What are the key do’s and dont’s to consider when entering into an Operating Lease as a school ?
- DO some research! Find out about existing contracts and financial regulations within your school’s local authority. Be aware of the market prices for the equipment you are purchasing but also ensure you contact the experts before entering into any lease agreements. DO ask some questions! Does the leasing company provide both equipment and finance? What is the length of the lease? What happens at the end of the lease? What about maintenance?
- DON’T be fooled! Be aware of incomplete or unclear agreements. Ensure you retain copies of all paperwork. Avoid “rolling over” into a new contract without proper consideration of what this entails financially.
Here at HardSoft Computers we pride ourselves on being a leasing company able to lease the latest iPads to schools whilst remaining fully compliant with the regulations of the Department of Education. We have worked with many LEA’s and have pre-agreed and approved paperwork available for inspection. That also means quick delivery.
As a licensed credit broker HardSoft are able to offer operating leases via underwriters who are all members of the FLA (Finance and Leasing Association)- so there’s no doubts. What’s more our iPad leasing also comes with insurance available to cover against accidental damage, theft or loss – this is an invaluable, no-fuss bonus for schools whose equipment passes through many hands and is therefore more likely to be broken! Whilst our standard lease is capped at a 3 year term we are able to offer schools a Renewal available after 2 years- essentially it works like a mobile phone upgrade. This gives you the option to take out the latest Apple iPad- whatever that might be in the future ! As a final point, our Apple iPad products come with a 3 year warranty as well as free technical support via the telephone throughout your contract!
Check out our website for more information on our Operating leases for schools or to read about just a few of the schools who have undertaken successful and highly beneficial leases with us. Our lease packages also can include the Bretford iPad trolley that as part of the lease ‘deal’ we will put a qualified Apple engineer in your school for day to train and configure using ‘Apple Configurator’ This almost hidden Apple App allows the ICT co-ordinator to control the iPad and secure them down. After every session the iPad can be reset to the schools settings.