Guidance for selling school machinery and equipment

Are you a teacher, technician or business and facilities manager? Do you have unused equipment? This article is for you! 

You’ve probably been far too busy teaching, fixing and managing to have much experience of selling equipment. We’re here to help. 

This article is divided up into 3 sections:

  1. Things to consider before selling
  2. Avenues to sell through
  3. Choosing a specialist dealer

Things to consider before selling

What kind of equipment? 

  • Design and Technology
  • Engineering, 
  • Product Design
  • Textiles
  • Art
  • Vocational courses

Can schools sell old DT equipment?

A good first question. One that we get asked a lot, actually. 

Short answer: Yes. It all comes down to…

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

If your school has independently purchased these assets, your tools and machines are your property. 

However, ownership will vary depending on the school. 

  • Business manager – Most schools will be in control of their own budget in regards to purchasing and selling. The final decision is with the Business Manager. That might be you?
  • Local authority – Machinery at some schools is owned by the local authority. You will need the consent of the local authority before a sale. This process is very often very straightforward, an email or a call away. 
  • External company – If the machine has been leased from an external company, outstanding funds owed on the item need to be cleared before sale.
  • Multi Academy Trust – If you’re part of a Multi Academy Trust (MAT), the equipment should first be offered to other academies in the MAT. The equipment can also be offered to any feeder schools. The Business Manager needs to look into this process. 

Remember. Your school does usually have the right to sell your equipment. Anyone employed by the school can act under the instruction of the school to sell any equipment the school wants to part with.

The reason we’re starting with this cosideration is because sometimes schools automatically assume that they can’t sell equipment. We hate to see good equipment scrapped or sold for parts. And it happens. Think of the waste!

What if the machine is broken? 

Tools, machines and other equipment can be sold even when not in working order. Even when they’ve failed health and safety inspection. 

This is where reconditioning comes in. Many people, including us, love reconditioning old machines back to fully working order. 

Why do schools sell old equipment?

  • Space – A machine might be taking up space in an overstocked department. By selling the machine, the department can free up space and acquire funds.
  • Priority Schools Building Programme – Schools on the Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP) have a certain amount of funding allocated to the cost of new equipment. Old equipment is no longer needed.
  • Safety – Some machines may be old or missing parts, preventing the safe use of the machine. 
  • Old equipment – With older machines, maintenance might be very expensive with hard to source replacement parts. Technology may be out of date for the current industry.
  • Department closure – Some schools are choosing to stop teaching Design Technology or Art.  

Think before you sell

The decision to sell your equipment should not be taken lightly. 

Newer replacement models can be lower quality and more expensive.

Staff are the guardians of the school equipment. Act with the school’s best interest at heart and preserve your workshop for future generations. A grand duty indeed. 

Avenues to sell through

Here’s some things to bear in mind for the 3 most common avenues: selling sites, auctions and machinery dealers.

1. Selling sites

Selling sites like eBay and Gumtree are great for reaching lots of buyers across the UK.


eBay typically charges 10-13% to sell an item. 

The fee will be charged at the end of the month. Be aware that this bill will cover all selling on eBay. If you’re selling from a personal account, you’ll need to work out reimbursement based on the charge per item.

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

Preparing the item for sale 

The Health and Safety Executive (2018) states that it’s the responsibility of the seller to ensure that the item is safe for work and meets all legal requirements of PUWER 1998. 

If an item does not work, it is not enough to write ‘Sold as seen’ or ‘No returns’.

If injury is caused through use of an unsafe machine, the school may be liable. Not what you want.


Take good pictures and give your listing a good description. Photos must be clear and high resolution. Descriptions must include condition, model, year, list of parts. In short, anything that will allow the buyer to make an informed decision. 

Be prepared to answer lots of questions. Be warned. You’ll be bombarded lower price offers.

Don’t include your contact details. You’ll get a lot of calls!

Payment methods

PayPal. Buyers like PayPal because of the protection it offers. The buyer is within their rights to request this payment method. PayPal charges 3% of item price.

Gumtree is geared towards cash payment. Remember, all cash payments should be declared to Finance.


A school is typically not set up to send parcels or put big machinery on pallets. If this is you, items will need to be collected by the buyer. 

It is advised that the school disconnects the equipment using a qualified electrician. The buyer is probably not trained and safety tested. 

If the buyer wants to see the machine in working order, you’ll need to arrange for a qualified electrician to be there on the day. 

Ensure that the buyer has brought all the correct lifting equipment and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). You may be liable for any injury on site.

Feedback and returns 

eBay provides a good feedback system. Be sure to check the transaction history and rating of a potential buyer.

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. 

Beware. (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

Low value items

Auction companies are a good idea if the item is low value. Load up, drop off and they’ll take care of the rest. 

Workshop clearance

Sometimes, an auction company can handle the all the selling from a full workshop clearance. 


The costs will almost always be recovered from the buyer in the form of a buyer’s premium. The premium is paid as a percentage of the hammer price. Therefore, in theory, it shouldn’t cost the schools to have their items sold.


Selling at auction is risky. 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

E.g. Ostia Tools!

No selling requirements

Selling to a machinery dealer means that the school is no longer required to make the machine safe for use before sale.

Single item to full workshop clearances

Machinery dealers can take single items but are also able to take lots of items in one go. Like a full workshop clearance for instance.


You will be able to get a range of quotes from different machinery companies. You’re free to choose the one who offers the best price or service. 


Machinery dealers will be able to handle the disconnection and removal of items. Most will be fully trained so you will not need to arrange an external contractor.


Machinery dealers make their money by making repairs and bringing machines up to standard. 

A machinery dealer sometimes pays on the lower side of the market value for an item and would expect a discount if purchasing full workshop clearances due to the extra costs of large scale removal.

Choosing the right machinery dealer

It is advisable to contact at least three machinery dealers to make a good range of comparison between prices and prove Finance that you have sought the best value. 

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

Price vs service

It is tempting to accept the quote which offers the highest price for the items. This will of course provide the school with the most money but you should be also be confident that the chosen buyer is trustworthy, reliable and has the means to undertake the removal.

Safe and efficient removal 

If you have arranged the sale of the school’s equipment, you must be certain that the dealer will carry out the removal in a safe and efficient manner. 

Any company or individual removing and collecting your equipment will be subject to the same checks and requirements of any external contractor visiting your school. As such, it is preferable that the company can prove their experience, legitimacy and ability to undertake the removal prior to visiting school property.

Proof of previous experience 

Lifting, moving and disconnecting machinery can be a dangerous task if done incorrectly. You must be sure of the ability of the machinery dealer. 

You might ask the dealer to provide a list of previously completed work of a similar caliber.

Proof of Limited Business 

For security reasons, you might prefer proof that the company is a limited business. 

Proof can be requested in the form of a business name and number, which can be checked at Companies House.

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 bogus machinery dealers (individuals posing as companies) will often try to avoid the large cost associated with being insured. 

Any valid machinery dealer will be able to produce a valid insurance certificate on request.

Risk Assessment / Method Statement (RAMS)

A risk assessment is used to identify anything that might cause harm.

A Method Statement provides a logical sequence of how the job will be undertaken. The statement must be closely followed to ensure the task is done correctly. 

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 company will need to be supervised at all times.

Research, research

A Google search should show the company website and details including contact and place of business. Check everything seems reputable. 

Look to see if there are any 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 company for your equipment. Well, we are going to say that aren’t we?

Here’s why:

  • We are confident that we can offer the best price for your used equipment.
  • We have a large amount of experience.
  • We are a reliable, fully insured, limited company.
  • All our removal team are fully DBS checked and can provide certification.
  • We have a team of committed machinery repairers. 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 buy or 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.