As a VAT registered UK business I am able to supply instruments under the Assisted Instrument Purchase Scheme (AIPS). (England and Wales, only)
The rules are not complicated. There is very little extra work and no financial implications to the business.
If you wish to take advantage of the scheme it is best to consult the school first, so that it can order the goods you want. However, the procedure can be worked the other way round if you tell me the name of the school and the goods you want. I then generate a pro-forma invoice to the school, with your name standing in for an order number. (I can email this to you in pdf format so that you can print it and take it to the school office.) If the school agrees to make the order they can contact me (by email or mail) and give me the all important official order number. I then supply the goods with an invoice bearing that number in addition to your name.
You will be billed by the school, and pay only the ex-VAT value of the goods. In the fullness of time the education authority or school pays me the full invoice amount.
If you are wondering why I have quoted 16.6% you need to consider the maths more carefully. The VAT rate is 20%, but the tax is being removed, not added. The 16.6% figure is not accurate, but good enough for most purposes. The formal invoices I generate are accurate to the last penny. This is not a cosy private arrangement, these facilities should be available to any eligible school pupil and from any retailer who is VAT registered.
The relevant statements from HMRC are here...