I think we are all aware that school budgets have been cut in real terms (year on year) since the financial crisis…
Back in the day when there was a bit more money sploshing about, primary schools had a printer in each classroom. Which helped in 2 ways:
- Allowed the children & teachers to print whatever they wanted & needed on demand
- Stopped the teacher leaving a full classroom of children unattended, whilst walking to a central printer
But since the credit crunch in 2008 budgets have slowly deteriorated & classroom printing was 1 of the first (nice to have) things to be culled. With it now phased out by most schools.
The reasons at the time made sense. Primary schools bought (due to budget) home rated inkjet printers for each classroom & because of their printing volumes, replacement ink cartridges were costing them a small fortune. Not to mention the cost of replacing each printer every year, as they couldn’t cope with the volumes of printing required in a school environment.
So what did the primary schools do, because they still had to print?
They bought photocopiers on a 3 or 5 year finance or operating lease agreement & signed a service contract with the supplier for an agreed charge for each page they printed or copied. This covered the cost of replacement cartridges, most other consumables and a repair agreement for when it stopped working.
In theory the photocopiers cut the primary schools printing costs in half. Although a couple of unexpected issues started to be uncovered:
- Security – Teachers had to leave classrooms unattended to pick up their printing or to do their copying. And it could be for a good while, as they (in most cases) only have 1 photocopier, which was usually situated near the office & the school entrance
- Wastage – Teachers & students couldn’t directly see what had been printed, so documents were printed twice or even three times on many occasions. And many printed documents were never even picked up from the photocopier, eventually been thrown away. But the school was still charged for every printed page, even the extra 1’s, including those that were never used.
- Extra charges – In the early days & unknowing to the schools, there were many unscrupulous photocopier supplies operating. And within their dodgy contracts there could be many hidden charges. A common practice was (and still is) to have a clause in the contract, which allowed the supplier to increase their prices whenever they wanted. So a school could be paying twice as much by the end of their agreement.
- Dodgy practices – These unscrupulous photocopier suppliers would also talk the schools into upgrading their equipment before their initial finance agreement had ended, with the promise of paying off what was left on the original agreement. This never happened of course, and the unscrupulous supplier would just add the remaining balance to the new financial agreement, meaning the school would end up financing fresh air. We’ve known schools with finance agreements amounting to 10’s of thousands of pounds on equipment worth only around £3,000.
A few years back the government recognised this was a problem for public sector organisations (including schools). And put legislation in place to stop this happening. But we can tell you, there are still some unscrupulous suppliers around operating in hoodwinking ways to both private organisations and yes, primary schools too.
As you can see, central printing is still a problem for most primary schools & if it was affordable, most would rather go back to a classroom printing solution. But current (and probably future 1’s too) budgets don’t allow it.
After identifying this problem and discussing the options with a number of schools, we took up the challenge to design a solution. But it had to be:
- Robust – Due to the high print volume, business rated printers had to be used to stop the equipment breaking every year
- Functionality – The equipment had to copy & scan too, just like the photocopiers
- Wireless – Technology had moved on & a lot of schools needed a wireless solution
- Supplies – A fast supply of unlimited replacement cartridges had to be available
- Maintenance – If anything went wrong the equipment had to be repaired or replaced fast & free
- Fixed price – There can be no hidden surprises & needs to be a guaranteed fixed price
- Budget – The solution had to save primary schools money against their central photocopier solution
And you know what? We did it. We even surprised ourselves. The solution ticked all 7 requirements & provides guaranteed certainty of your total printing related costs (excluding paper).
But what’s even more amazing, it saves primary schools much more than we had first anticipated. The savings are a massive 50 – 75% against the price of a central photocopier.
In the video, I talk about how much Christ the King have saved. But the same can also be said of Accrington St Annes & St Josephs, Padiham Primary School, Lowerhouse Junior School, Bacup St Saviours, Darwen Aldridge College, Accrington St Christophers & many many more.
And it doesn’t stop there either. This solution is a perfect fit for any organisation with small office work groups of up to 5 people too. And on average (after detailed analysis) will save you 60% against your previous printing related costs.