Stone Group - Providing digital transformation solutions to organisations across the UK.

So, it’s time for a much-needed IT refresh, but budgets are even tighter than the last tech replacement your school had, along with the added dilemma of where to spend the limited funds – do you opt for laptops? AV? Something else?

Then there’s the growing pressure of ensuring students are ‘future-ready’, with the investment of emerging technologies to help bridge the STEM skills gap.

Gone are the days when a textbook and an overhead projector were considered enough to tackle the apparent skills shortage, technology has, and continues to, evolve at a rapid rate and schools need a cost-effective strategy in place to keep up.

Refreshing your IT provides a consistent service for students, helping to enhance pupil concentration as well as the added bonus of impressing parents. It reassures them that your school is capable of providing technology efficient enough for pupil engagement and development and shows them you’re serious about improving teaching and learning outcomes.

An IT refresh will also will give your school the opportunity to assess the direction you want your IT infrastructure to go in and evaluate the costs and benefits of trying something new.

But what options are available when trying to achieve this on such a limited budget? We’ve looked at various possibilities: investing in brand new vs. ‘not so new’ devices, or in other words – refurbished. Something that your school may not have even considered, but there’s value in choosing to invest in either one of these. This is what we’ve found:


Investing in brand new IT hardware when it comes to your refresh often seems like a logical step to take, particularly with the enforcement of the Computing curriculum back in 2014.

The Computing curriculum means primary and secondary school students are required to learn programming skills within the classroom in a bid to fill the UK computing skills gap. 90% of today’s occupations require employees to possess some form of digital skill, so it’s important that every school provides access to solid and reliable ICT facilities to ensure all students are being taught these key skills effectively.

There are a number of benefits of investing in brand new hardware, these include:

  • You don’t need to worry about who might’ve been handling the device before you when it’s come straight off the production line, so there’s little to no chance of finding any wear and tear blemishes if you’re concerned about the aesthetics of the equipment.
  • You’ll get a better support package and warranty around brand new equipment. Whilst most refurbished devices are supplied with a warranty, it may not be as lengthy as if it was a brand-new piece of equipment. For example, Apple’s certified refurbished products offer a one year warranty – the same as they offer for brand new purchases. However, many other reputable companies may only offer a three-month warranty for reconditioned equipment, which covers any immediate issues that arise, but there may be very little to no support after this 90-day period if anything goes wrong. Depending on the manufacturer, you could get a 3-5-year warranty on brand new products, compared to up to a one year warranty on refurb.
  • Depending on your requirements, you can be sure you’re receiving the most up to date, cutting-edge technology needed to enhance the learning experience in the classroom when you choose to buy new.

So, if your requirements are to have the most up to date technology with the latest features then purchasing brand new devices might be the better option for you.

Buying brand new is a great option, as long as your budget can stretch to it, but buying all new equipment isn’t something every school can achieve these days. And whilst your funds might just cover purchasing new equipment, there probably won’t be much more of the budget left to spend on other important investments for your school.

Whilst it’s crucial to ensure students are equipped to fill the digital skills gap, you can also achieve this goal with another option. Namely – refurb.


When referring to ‘old’, we’re not talking an Acorn Archimedes computer with built in floppy disk support, we’re talking a more recent (anything between a few months to a few years) piece of equipment that’s been refurbished.

A device that’s referred to as ‘refurbished’ has been returned to the manufacturer or an approved refurbisher, internally and externally cleaned and cleared of any defects.

There are risks that come with purchasing reconditioned devices, but this risk can be eliminated with some thorough research around what you’re looking for and who you’re getting it from.

Much like new IT hardware, investing in reconditioned equipment can bring many advantages for your school:

  • Price! Most likely the top motivator when considering refurb as an option. When it comes to refreshing IT devices and you’re on a budget, buying reconditioned devices can save you a considerable amount of money – sometimes anywhere from 10% up to 40% is not unheard of. The savings you make by purchasing reconditioned devices will allow your budget to stretch further and you may even find you’re able to buy more equipment that might not have been possible if you’d decided to buy brand new.
  • Just because the costs are less, doesn’t mean they don’t perform as well. Refurbished devices can work just as well as a brand-new piece of kit and there’s no guarantee that just because you’ve invested in brand new devices, they’re going to be fault-free. Around 5% of brand new hardware can become faulty due to manufacturing errors within the first year. You can take comfort in the knowledge that a refurbished device has been sent back to an approved refurbisher and all necessary repairs have been made and thoroughly tested, bypassing the initial ‘first year failure rate’.
  • Depending on your IT needs, reconditioned devices can have just as many of the features you’re searching for as a new device, and if they lack what you’re looking for, you can sometimes upgrade components such as hard drive and memory to the specs you want.

It’s a good idea to carry out your research by comparing the features you’re looking for with the new and the refurb device, to establish if you could carry out any upgrades on the refurb devices with the specs you’re after.

If refurb is the way forward for you and you want to find out more, why not check out this blog that highlights reasons why refurbished IT is a good investment for schools.

So, whats the best option?

Whether you choose to buy new or refurbished, make sure the devices you invest in meet both your school’s requirements as well as your budget. The aim of an IT refresh is so teaching can be enhanced and collaboration with students can thrive with the right piece of tech.

If you’re after equipment that’s in pristine condition with no knocks or bumps, then refurbished may not be for you, but if you’re looking beyond that and want devices that work just as good as new and possess the same specs you’re looking for from a brand-new device, then refurb should be a serious consideration for your IT refresh strategy.

Whether it’s new or  ‘a little bit older’, as long as the time is taken to do your homework with regards to budget, what you as a school want to get out of the devices and careful consideration of brands and refurb sellers, there isn’t a wrong answer when choosing between old vs new.

Contact one of our account managers today