Making the most of supermarket voucher schemes

For the past 20 years, schools have been encouraging parents to collect supermarket promotional vouchers on their behalf. These vouchers are exchanged for resources and products, allowing stretched ICT budgets to stretch that little further. The schemes follow much the same pattern: for every set amount spent on shopping in the store, a voucher is earned. Individually, these vouchers don’t amount to much, but across a school they soon add up.

The schemes

While various schemes have run in the past, it’s effectively now narrowed down to two. Sainsbury’s runs “Active Kids”, which is angled mainly at sports equipment and such like, but includes some ICT products. The big player, though, remains Tesco, which pioneered the idea and continues to support it.


Of late, Tesco has re-angled its scheme under the banner “Tesco For Schools & Clubs”. As the name suggests, its remit is now broader than only educational institutions, and its catalogue now includes products in several areas. Thus, vouchers can be exchanged for learning environment materials, green products, sports and health items, as well as ICT equipment.

The principles remain the same. For every £10 of shopping, or £5 at local stores, you receive a voucher (with certain asterisked exceptions). Collect the vouchers together in big enough quantities, and you can exchange them for equipment. The schemes are time-limited: Tesco’s runs from March to May every year, with final receipt of orders in July; the Sainsbury’s one from February to April every year. One year’s vouchers don’t carry over to the next. Tesco has plans to overhaul the current paper-based system, which should save a bit of time counting up all the vouchers and getting them sent in.

Using the schemes

So, how best to go about using such schemes? First and foremost, it’s time for a reality check. In the same way that collecting loyalty cards at the supermarket will never get you enough to cover a regular weekly shop, so the schemes here will never come close to displacing a proper ICT budget. It’s best to think of equipment gained as an unexpected extra, rather than something you can rely on.

That said, this is an opportunity to purchase something the school may otherwise not be able to afford. As Tesco’s Jan Foster told us: “Since 1992, we have donated over £185m worth of equipment to more than 45,000 schools and colleges.” Granted, it isn’t an act of benevolence on Tesco’s part; after all, it’s a loyalty scheme. All the same, there’s still the best part of £10m of equipment a year being given away.

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