Guidance for selling used school machinery and equipment

The following article is aimed at teachers, technicians, business managers and facilities managers of schools, colleges and other educational institutions. It concerns the best practices when selling used equipment from Design and Technology, Engineering, Product Design, Textiles, Art and other vocational courses.

Can schools sell old DT equipment?

Yes, schools are able to sell their equipment. Second hand tools and machines do not need to be sold as scrap or for parts. The tools, machines and other equipment can be sold even when not in working order, or when they have failed health and safety inspections. The following information can assist departments in selling their equipment.

Who owns the machines, and who has the right to sell them?

This will vary depending on the school. Machinery at some schools will be owned by the local authority and not the school itself, and therefore the local authority will need to consent before a sale. Mostly schools will be in control of their own budget in regards to purchasing and selling, so the final decision would lie with the Business Manager. If the machine has been leased from an external company, there may be some outstanding funds owed on the item, which should be cleared before any sale.

If part of a Multi Academy Trust (MAT), the equipment should be offered to other academies in the MAT before offered for sale outside of the MAT. However, this should be highlighted by the Business Manager before a price is agreed with a purchaser. The equipment could also be offered to any feeder schools.

The school has the right to sell their equipment, and anyone employed by the school can act under the instruction of the school to sell any equipment the school wants to part with.

Why do schools sell old equipment?

Schools will often sell their equipment for various reasons:

  • If a department does not use a machine it will be taking up space, and will be costing the department each year to have the machine tested. By selling the machine the department will free up space and acquire funds which can be better used elsewhere.
  • Schools on the Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP) will have an amount allocated in the cost of the new building, for fitting out the new Design Technology department with new equipment. As it is being replaced, the old equipment will be surplus to requirements.
  • Some machines may be missing critical parts which prevent the safe use of the machine. With older machines these parts may be longer be available to purchase, or the cost of replacing or retrofitting the part may be more expensive than a whole new machine.
  • The technology of some machines may be outdated, and a new machine will be required to keep students learning the skills required in industry once leaving school. While the techniques needed to use the machines typically found in a school workshop will always be relevant, there is also the need to teach students new processes.
  • Some schools are choosing to stop teaching Design Technology. DT can be an expensive subject to run and if the grades don’t justify the cost, a school may choose to end the subject.

There are plenty of reasons why a school may choose to sell their equipment, however the decision to sell it shouldn’t be taken lightly. The cost of replacing the equipment, if it is needed in the future, will be expensive and the replacement may be of a lesser quality. Staff should be seen as guardians of the equipment, who preserve the workshop for use by future generations, and should act with the school’s best interests at heart.

Who can schools sell to?

Schools can sell their equipment to whoever they like, and through a range of selling channels. Each method of selling presents different problems that may arise.


  1. eBay and Gumtree

Selling through these websites is a great way of reaching a larger range of potential buyers across the UK.


eBay typically charges 10-13% to sell an item, which will be charged to the account at the end of the month. This is not a problem on a school eBay account, but this amount should be claimed back from the school if the teacher uses a personal account. Be aware that the bill at the end of the month will cover all selling on eBay by a user, which can become tricky if selling some items personally and some on behalf of the school.

Gumtree does not charge to have an item listed on their site.

Preparing the item for sale

The Health and Safety Executive (2018) explains that it is the responsibility of the seller to ensure that the item for sale is safe for work and meets all the legal requirements of PUWER 1998. ‘Sold as seen’ or ‘No returns’ does not release the seller from their obligation to make their item safe for work before sale. Failure to do so may cause the school to be liable for injury caused through use of an unsafe machine.


To get the best price for an item on eBay or Gumtree, the seller should provide plenty of clear, high resolution photos, full description of the condition, a list of parts or extras and any other information that would assist the potential buyer in making an informed decision. Be prepared to answer lots of questions about the item and be bombarded with people offering a reduced price for cash. The author has found that putting a telephone number on Gumtree or in an eBay advert does increase the number of unsolicited calls throughout the day.

Payment methods-

When selling on eBay, the seller must provide the option for PayPal. Often people will state in the advert that cash is preferred, but the buyer is still within their rights to pay by PayPal, who typically take a 3% charge. Gumtree is more geared towards cash payment, and all cash payments should be declared to Finance.


A school will typically not be set up to send parcels or palletise big machinery, therefore most items sold will need to be collected by the buyer. It is advised that the school disconnects the equipment from the electrics using a qualified electrician instead of requiring the buyer to do this, as they may not be trained to do so. However the buyer may want to see the machine working, especially if it is sold in working order. It is the responsibility of the school to ensure that the buyer who turns up on site to remove the item is capable of doing so, and has brought all the correct lifting equipment and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). The school may be liable for any injury caused to someone on site collecting an item.

Feedback and returns

eBay provides a good feedback system, so a school can check the buyer has made some successful transactions. However, schools should be aware that any item sold on eBay is subject to a 14-day full return under eBay’s Money Back Guarantee. Part of this guarantee requires the seller to pay for the return postage even if the item has been collected. (Some) buyers on eBay are very familiar with this buyer protection and can use this loophole to obtain an item, claim that it does not work or is not as described, and get a full repayment whilst keeping the product.


2. Auction Companies

If selling an item, it may not be worth having an auction company sell it on behalf of the school, especially if its value is quite low. However, for a full workshop clearance, such as a move to a new building or because the subject is no longer being taught, an auction company can handle the selling on behalf the the school. The auction company’s costs will almost always be recovered from the buyer in the form of a buyer’s premium, paid as a percentage of the hammer price. Therefore it would not cost the schools to have their items sold.

Selling at auction would require the school to offer viewings on the item if they are to get the most for it. Selling at auction is risky, as without a reserve price the item could sell for way below its market value. The item may also be subject to seasonal changes in price.


3. Machinery Dealers

Selling to a machinery dealer such as Ostia Tools means that school is no longer required to make the machine safe for use and up to regulation. This is because by selling to a machinery dealer, it is not intended for use. It will be the responsibility of a machinery dealer to bring it up to the current standards before it is sold on. Machinery dealers will offer a price for the equipment and are the good way to sell a wide range of equipment in one go. As the seller you will be able to get quotes from different companies for the equipment and choose the one who offers the best price or service. Machinery dealers will be able to handle the disconnection and removal of items. Machinery dealers will add their own value to the items purchased by making any repairs needed and by bringing them up to standard. A machinery dealer would expect to pay on the lower side of the market value for an item and would expect a discount if purchasing full workshop job lots.

There are other avenues which an institution can use to sell equipment which have not been explained in this article. While an institution is free to sell in any way they consider suitable, the pros and cons of each option should be considered.

The remainder of this article will focus on the choice of an institution to sell to a machinery dealer.

Choosing the right machinery dealer

When selling equipment it is advisable to contact at least three machinery dealers, as this can offer a comparison between prices and prove that the school has sought the best value. The buyer may choose to come to the school and have a look at the equipment to get a better sense of condition and consider other factors, such as access, parking and vehicle restrictions, before providing a quote.

Any machinery dealer worth their salt will be happy to provide information on other machinery dealers so that a school can get multiple quotes.

The school will most likely choose to accept the quote which offers the highest price for the items. Whilst this will provide the school with the most money in return for their equipment, the school should be also be confident that the chosen buyer can undertake the task.

What are the requirements of purchasers of equipment?

Once you have chosen a company or individual you wish to sell the items to, you need to make sure that they will be able to carry out the collection of the equipment in a safe and efficient manner. Anyone coming into the school to undertake the removal of equipment will be classed as an external contractor and as such will have to fulfil the same requirements. Any company/individual should be able to supply the following information to prove their experience, legitimacy and ability to undertake the work.

Proof of Limited Business

This can be provided in the form of a business name and number, which can be checked at Companies House. This information is important for the school to check that the buyer is legitimate.

Proof of insurance

Any contractor working in a school should be insured for a minimum of £5m Public Liability insurance. Insurance can be expensive and some bogus machinery dealers or individuals posing as companies will often try to avoid the large cost associated with being insured. Any machinery dealer should be able to produce a valid insurance certificate on request.

Risk Assessment / Method Statement (RAMS)

The risk assessment is used to identify anything that might cause harm, and measures needed to be put in place to reduce or eliminate the chance of harm. A Method Statement provides a logical sequence of how the job will be undertaken. These should be followed to ensure the task is done correctly. RAMS should be provided before any work on site is undertaken.

Proof of previous experience

Lifting, moving and disconnecting machinery can be a dangerous task if done incorrectly. If the school is unsure of the ability of the purchaser or anyone working on behalf of the purchaser, they should request proof of ability through previously completed work of a similar calibre.

DBS Check

Disclosure and Barring Service Checks are required for any adult working in a school without constant supervision. Most external contractors who regularly work within education will have completed a DBS check. If one has not been undertaken or proof cannot be given, then the external contractor will need to be supervised at all times.

Do your research on the company. A Google search should show their website, company details including contact details and place of business, as well as mentions of the company on other websites such as TrustPilot. Are they a member of any professional associations or organisations?


We at Ostia Tools believe that we are the best place for your equipment. We believe we can offer the best price for your used equipment, and our refurbished machinery is a more cost-effective alternative to purchasing new equipment. Our aim is to become a central hub where all DT equipment is collected, refurbished and redistributed back into educational establishments across the UK. Please get in touch with us if you are looking to sell any equipment.

This article is regularly updated. If you believe there is a mistake in the article or have any additional information you think should be included, please get in touch.