How to procure the right phone system for your school

With the BT Network Switch Off fast approaching in 2025 many schools still need to replace their phone systems to ensure their communications are maintained. It is imperative that schools make the right choice or risk overpaying for unsuitable products.

Last week’s blog explained why 97% of schools are overpaying for technology, if you missed it you can read it here. This week we will provide some tips to help you procure a school phone system.


You need to ensure you allow plenty of time to execute the procurement project. This should include research into products and suppliers, procuring pricing, reviewing quotations, discussions with SLT and Governors, shortlisting companies, arranging and conducting site surveys, placing orders, scheduling installation dates, and porting phone numbers.

Ideally you should allow at least two to three months for this process. In addition to this you may prefer to have the phone system installed over a school holiday period which needs additional consideration.


It is always advisable to seek expert advice to understand and maximise the benefits a new phone system can provide. Most telecoms and IT companies do not specialise in supplying phone systems to schools, as a result they are unlikely to understand the unique needs of schools and therefore may not provide the advice you require.

It’s crucial to assess whether an on-premise or cloud-based (hosted) phone system is the best fit for your school. Each option has its own set of pros and cons, and selecting the right one tailored to your individual needs is paramount. This decision holds significant financial implications and has the potential to save your school thousands of pounds.

Budgetary Considerations:

Establishing a realistic budget is paramount in any procurement project. If opting for an on-premise phone system you have the option to purchase the phone system or take an operating lease. If selecting a cloud-based (hosted) phone system then the model is geared towards paying a monthly licence fee for as long as you keep the phone system.

It is important to evaluate which solution best fits your needs and your school’s financial capabilities, you should then consider the total cost of ownership, including installation, maintenance, monthly rentals, and potential upgrades.

Handset Requirements:

Before diving into the procurement process, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough assessment of your school’s communication needs. You should consider where you want handsets and not just where you have them now. Do you want to install handsets in classrooms, does the kitchen need to be added onto the school phone system….

You now have the option to use software applications in the form of a softphone on a laptop/PC or an app that can be installed on a mobile phone or tablet. These can help communicate with staff as they move around school or work from other locations.

Once you know where you want handsets you will then need to look at what handset models are best suited for each location in your school.

Feature Requirements:

Each school has its own unique communication needs. Identify the essential features that are required for your school, such as auto attendant, voicemail, call recording, emergency communications for lockdown and evacuation, reporting absences, integration to MIS or CPOMS.

This is where it is important to seek expert advice to ensure you get the most out of your phone system and ensure you don’t overpay.

Future-Proofing Your Investment:

Technology evolves rapidly, and your chosen phone system should be able to adapt to future changes. The UK market has been flooded with new phone systems over the past few years, we believe that less than 10% of phone systems are suitable for schools, this is based on price, longevity, and functionality.

It is of utmost importance to ensure that the phone system you purchase is not at risk of discontinuation in the coming years. Furthermore, it is essential to guard against potential risks such as the supplier going out of business or withdrawing from the UK market. Evaluating the stability and long-term commitment of the supplier is a critical aspect of making a secure and future-proof investment in your school’s communication infrastructure.

Compatibility with Existing Infrastructure:

Your new phone system and handsets will utilise VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology, necessitating installation on Cat5/6 data cabling and connection through your data network switches.

It is advisable to discuss the suitability of your data network with your IT Manager or IT support company to assess if it is ready for the installation of a new school VoIP phone system. In addition to this we recommend that shortlisted phone system suppliers are invited to conduct site surveys prior to any orders being placed.

Installation and Training:

Ensure that both installation and training are included in your proposal, and have a clear understanding of the included elements. Some companies will offer remote phone system installs where they ship the handsets to site and expect school employees to install them.

Training can vary from on-site with a trainer, online training or providing a manual for you to read.

Always check what is included and ideally ensure that your phone system is installed by an engineer that attends site, this will ensure that handsets are installed correctly, and any issues can be quickly resolved.

Maintenance / Support:

Verify the level of support provided for both faults and programming changes to your phone system. It’s crucial to understand the different Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to prevent extended periods of downtime in case of a fault. Being informed about the support mechanisms and response times ensures that your school can address issues promptly and maintain uninterrupted communications.

Supplier & Product Evaluation:

Without a deep understanding of the telecoms market, comparing products and suppliers can be a daunting task. It’s possible to encounter situations where one supplier offers a significant discount on a high-quality system, while another provides no discount on a lower-quality alternative. Despite similar pricing, making an informed decision becomes challenging without detailed insight into the products proposed.

To overcome this knowledge gap, one viable option is to seek advice from an independent telecoms procurement expert like TGE Solutions. Alternatively, your only other recourse is to ask for references and thoroughly research the phone system manufacturers and products proposed. This proactive approach ensures that you can make a well-informed decision, aligning with your school’s unique requirements and budget considerations.


Procuring the right phone system for your school is not a simple task, it requires a strategic approach, considering your specific communication needs, budget constraints, timescales, and future plans. By following these guidelines, you will be better equipped to make an informed decision that enhances communications within your school.

Trusted Partner

At TGE Solutions, we understand the challenges schools face when procuring phone systems. Our Phone System Procurement service is designed to ensure schools procure the right phone system for their individual needs, from reputable suppliers at the best possible prices.

Contact Us for Expert Guidance

For further information or to schedule a consultation with our experts, please contact us on 01937 420052 or complete the contact form below.

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