Inside BESA – behind the scenes at a busy trade association

This is the first in a series of posts going behind the scenes at BESA. We are often asked about the work we do so this series of articles will shed some light on the various activities and workings of a busy and successful trade association.  First and foremost BESA is a membership association and we are here to serve the companies we represent.  This article will focus on our member support services and the different types of companies we represent. Future articles will explore our events, international work, policy and governance. 



BESA members are drawn from the full spectrum of education suppliers from furniture to early years providers, stationery to playground equipment, publishers to EdTech. We have members who are one person statups right through to multinationals.


Full membership

To be eligible for BESA membership a company needs to be registered in the UK, have been trading for a minimum of 2 years and showing a profit.


Launchpad companies

Our Launchpad programme is aimed at young and emerging companies that have not yet met the criteria for full membership. They must 

  • be registered in the UK
  • have been trading for less than 5 years


Once a company has applied for membership they are taken through a due diligence process during which we check their eligibility, profitability and conduct reputational checks. All applicants are presented to members who have the right to raise objections, and our Executive Council are also asked to approve the application.


On approval companies are asked to sign our Code of Practice, the rules by which all members must abide.


Why is the code of practice and the approval process important?

We believe that members of BESA should behave in an ethical and responsible manner in their dealings with schools and their customers. The approval process and Code of Practice reflects this. Companies who are accepted into membership are entitled to display the BESA logo on their marketing communications to mark them out as a trusted supplier.


If a company is found to have breached the Code of Practice then they may be asked to leave BESA membership and to stop using the BESA logo. Thankfully this very rarely happens but we have a full complaints procedure which we follow when required.


Member support

The full range of support we offer is too big to cover in full here, but is explained in detail on our website. Services fall into

  • Insights – around 20 research and market analysis reports every year
  • Influence – policy advice, government liaison and lobbying. This will be covered in more detail in a subsequent article
  • International – tradeshows and trade missions, government outreach and market research to support members’ exporting activities
  • Events and exhibitions
  • Business support in the form of advice, training, discounts and partnerships


A full list of BESA members and Launchpad subscribers can be found on our website. Our next post will look at our UK and international events.


Caroline Wright,  Director General.