Awarded to STCS Limited

Start date: Monday 3 August 2020
Value: £127,560
Company size: SME
Leeds City Council

ITS201396-009 SEND Funding Solution

18 Incomplete applications

16 SME, 2 large

27 Completed applications

25 SME, 2 large

Important dates

Tuesday 5 May 2020
Deadline for asking questions
Tuesday 12 May 2020 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Tuesday 19 May 2020 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
To design and develop an application to support the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Funding function provided by the Council using an agile application development approach.

Provide an application development team to perform detailed application design and development activities using the high-level solution design work completed by the Council.
Latest start date
Tuesday 1 September 2020
Expected contract length
12 months
No specific location, for example they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
Leeds City Council
Budget range
The Council's has budgeted in the region of £120k to deliver this project, however, we are open to be guided by the market on this.

About the work

Why the work is being done
The Council has a DfE mandated responsibility to fairly and equitably distribute Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) funding. £18million is distributed by the Council to children with higher needs in Early Years, Mainstream Schools and Post-16 Settings each year. Funding for Inclusion (FFI) is a point based assessment process created by the Council to help meet this mandate.

Between 2000 and 2010 a bespoke application was developed to support FFI assessments. Enhancing or adding functionality is increasingly complex and requires significant effort and cost. The existing application carries significant risks. The Council aims to develop a replacement application.
Problem to be solved
Funding for Inclusion (FFI) is a point based assessment process created by the Council to help meet the DFE mandate to Leeds City Council of fairly distributing SEND funding. Without digital support the process is inefficient and prevents timely payment of funding to parents and carers.

The work will create an application capable of automating, tracking and reporting on the FFI assessment and funding process efficiently to ensure timely assessment and payment of funding applications.
Who the users are and what they need to do
FFI Co-Ordinator. Requires ability to track SEND funded pupils in academic settings. Allocates funding units to pupils using established business rules and SEND assessment. Tracks existing budget spend and forecasts future budget spend across all academic settings and individual pupils by calculating budget value of units allocated to pupils. Responds to funding enquiries.
Finance Officers. Makes payments to academic settings and indivduals based on FFI Co-Oridnators funding calculations.
Academic settings. Informs council of pupils with funding needs. Reports on payments made to pupils in their academic setting. Enquires about funding for individual pupils.

Detailed user stories are avalaible on request.
Early market engagement
After carrying out a analysis of the Council’s requirements, an options appraisal was undertaken. Early market engagement with the off-the-shelf providers of SEND products formed part of this options appraisal.

Following early market engagement the outcome and agreed option was to custom develop a replacement application.
Any work that’s already been done
Discovery work has been conducted by the Council which has resulted in a business case, high-level requirements, detailed user stories and solution design work which proposes a custom rebuild using .Net, SQL, existing corporate reporting solutions and live data links with Excel for financial management and forecasting features.

All discovery work and high level solutioning work is avalaible on request and assumed as an input to the application development activities.
Existing team
Existing team avaliable for project duration:
• Internal Project Manager. Works alongside the Contractor PM where overlap/cross-over is identified.
• Business Analyst familiar with the discovery work already conducted.
• Integration Developer to provide support for integrating with the on premise system the solution requires data from.
• Solutions Architect familiar with the high-level design work already conducted.
• Lead Development Representative to advise on Council standards and collaborate on developer design choices.
• Lead Business Representative familiar with the target business process and a user of the end product. Working collaboratively with the development team during the development lifecycle.
Current phase
Not applicable

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
The Contractor’s team will work remotely. Remote working through appropriate collboaration tooling such as Microsoft Teams, Basecamp and JIRA is assumed.

By mutual agreement some team members may attend site at key stages of the work activity e.g. early workshops and to ensure knowledge transfer can take place with Council staff.

Council staff are based at either: St George House, 40 Great George Street, Leeds, LS1 3DL or Merrion House, 110 Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8BB.
Working arrangements
The Council will make any additional Council resource available for interview/consultation as required during this commission.

The Contractor is required to provide a multi-disciplined team to work alongside existing team.

Working hours are flexilbe but engagement with council provided resources should be in hours 8am – 6pm GMT.
Security clearance
The Council may require DBS checks to be undertaken.
The Contractor will adhere to the safeguarding measures and requirements provided by the Council.
Safeguarding training may be required.
Logins and licences will be provided for Contractors staff to connect to the Council’s network / systems securely to deliver the project.

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Essential skills and experience
  • Proven track record of managing agile design and development projects, moving quickly with prototypes and pilots to prove ideas in practice.
  • Familiarity with production and refinement of discovery products e.g. personas, user stories and needs.
  • Experience in creating functional proof of concepts; performing user testing; identifying technical and implementation challenges.
  • Experience in creating production ready solution using secure development practices addressing process or technical related challenges, coordinating user testing & iteration.
  • Experience in the handover and deployment of production ready solutions. Proven track record in projects requiring support handover for operation by customer.
  • Experience in the management and organisation of agile developments.
  • Ability to organise developments from design and user requirements presenting agile sprint plans, ordering product development backlogs and reporting on development progress.
  • Ability to communicate project progress and manage resources in a extended teams to achieve on-time delivery of minimal viable products.
  • Proven track record of delivery of development projects requiring interface with existing organisations design, technical, and project management teams.
  • Delivery of a quality coded products using Microsoft Development Stack (.Net core, MVC,SQL, Power BI, SRSS).
  • Establish complimentary DevOps method and utilise development tooling to that of the Councils [MS SQL, Azure DevOps, Visual Studio, C#, JS5, HTML5, CSS3, .net Core, Selenium, Git, Markdown Syntax, Specflow].
  • Design, build and enhance Products in secure, ‘open’, loosely coupled ways so that they or their component parts can be shared and reused
  • Experience with developments requiring integration with existing back office systems.
  • Follow a strict Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) approach to software development and that includes rigorous and comprehensive testing preferably automated.
  • Experience working with automated regression test suites, Developing User Acceptance Test (UAT) Scripts and delivering UAT against agreed Test Scripts.
  • Ability to manage release including bug identification management and fix verification process.
  • Proven experience in transitioning support to an orgnaisations existing development and operations resources.
  • Experience in projects having required deployment to an oranisations existing development infrastructure.
  • Proven track record in creation of handover documentation and developer documentation.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • The relevant experienced has been gained by working with other large Councils.
  • Experience in the development of financial or case assessment related applications.
  • Familiar with the government design system and GDS Service Manual. Experience in delivery of services to public sector organisations.

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Approach: Agile and collobrative approach. Approach should be in line with GDS Service Manual for Agile Delivery
  • Method: Use of recognised agile methodologies in the delivery of including, but not limited to: Scrum, DSDM or Lean.
  • Timescale: Ability to mobilse and deliver product incrementally over in a 6-8 month timescale.
  • Team: Multi-Discplinary team consisting of management and developer resources. Ability to work with existing team established by the Council.
  • Delivery Plan: Ability to curate both project and agile development deliveries plan from requirements gathered.
Cultural fit criteria
  • Work collaboratively and open in approach and opinions.
  • Be willing to share knowledge, intelligence and insights in an open and transparent way.
  • Be able to work alongside an established team and able to establish positive working relationships.
  • Be able to work remotely from the team whilst maintaining strong relationships.
  • Be willing to provide challenge and offer alternatives in a constructive manner.
  • Have a structured approach to planning and sharing knowledge.
Payment approach
Fixed price
Additional assessment methods
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Will you consider a solution developed in PHP rather than.NET?
Thank you for your question. For the reasons of collaboration, long term supportability and integration with our existing development standards we can only consider a solution developed in .net”
2. Had the discovery phase been done by your internal team or by third party contractor?
Discovery work was completed by an internal team of business owners, solution architects and business analysts. Some consultation was conducted with 3rd parties as part of this work.
3. Is a Microsoft development stack required for this development? Or would you also consider open source languages like Ruby, Python etc.?
Thank you for your question. For the reasons of collaboration, long term supportability and integration with our existing development standards we can only consider a solution developed in a Microsoft Stack.
4. "Detailed user stories are avalaible on request."
"All discovery work and high level solutioning work is avalaible on request and assumed as an input to the application development activities."
Are you able to provide these?
Are you able to make the user stories at this stage?
You mention "all discovery work and high level solutioning work is available on request." Who should bidders contact to access this?
We are currently working on making these documents available to all interested parties and will advise where they can be accesssed shortly.
5. With regard to Q4 asking:
"Detailed user stories are available on request."
"All discovery work and high level solutioning work is available on request and assumed as an input to the application development activities."
Are you able to provide these?
Are you able to make the user stories at this stage?
You mention "all discovery work and high level solutioning work is available on request." Who should bidders contact to access this?
The relevant documents are now available for download using the following link:

Should you encounter any problems viewing the documents, please call 0113 378 5589 immediately for assistance.
6. The opportunity description implies you are seeking a bespoke solution to be developed. Would you consider use of a business rules management systems paired with Robotic Process Automation? This would enable your business teams to access and maintain rules, rather than relying on developers to respond to evolving legislations and business controls.
Our high-level solution design indicates that business rules will be abstracted from the main application for ongoing maintainability.
We are open to any variety of low level design approaches in this area, including automation, subject to:
1) the constraints of the project as a whole (time, budget, resources etc.)
2) supplier experience and confidence in the approach proposed
3) fulfilment of the high-level design requirement to have the business rules abstracted and in some way updatable and maintainable.
7. Are suppliers/bidders permitted to use multiple examples to answer the question?
Yes, so long as the example is relevant and demonstrate suitable experience to the question asked.
8. Is there a design system (such as, already in place for internal projects or should we plan to supply design resource as part of the proposal?
For Citizen facing developments Leeds have extended the GDS ( We have used this “Leeds Design System” on Citizen facing and internal product developments with success.
As this development is internally facing we would consider the use of either the Leeds Design System, GDS or recognised industry design system with a first preference of the Microsoft Fluent Design System using Fluent UI REACT.
Other industry recognised design systems can be proposed for this development where the vendor has demonstrable success with its use. There is no expectation for the project to require bespoke UI/UX design.
9. We note that the discovery has been completed. Are we right in assuming that this proposal is to cover taking the service to live, including alpha and beta stages if applicable?
Yes, this is correct.
10. Can you provide some information regarding the hosting environment? Do you have a standard deployment process already defined?
Options for hosting are use of Leeds Councils Azure or our on premise datacentre using Microsoft Stack. Further technical solution work is required by us to determine which option is preferable. We have dev/staging/live patterns that are re-usable for both.
There is no standard deployment process but our deployment standards are:
1) Multi-environment
2) Automated deployment using TFS or Azure Dev Ops
3) Automate gates using Selenium
4) Automated steps using PowerShell.
A deployment process will be defined based on a) the deployment standards b) partner requirements c) past pattern re-use.
Please review Appendix E+F - link
11. What are you expecting the team to look like?
We recognise that respondents will have different delivery models but as loose guidance we would expect a project coordination function, a product development management function (ordering/coordinating work of the developers), a lead development function supported by other developers. There is no assumption these functions would be covered by an individual for each role, functions may be shared across your team. There is no assumption these functions would be F/T and may be shared across other projects in a trade-off for cost/delivery speed. Please review the “existing team” section in the tender requirements. Internal resources are available to interface throughout.
12. Data Integrations – It is noted that there will be import from Excel files, will files be manually uploaded or does the integration process require SFTP? And will there be direct integrations via APIs to systems such as Synergy?
For example: The data flowed on pupil attendance?
"Data on pupil attendance will be flowed from the Education Leeds Central DB and Schools Management System (currently Synergy).
Data is received in spreadsheets from Schools. It’s out of scope to provide schools a UI. The existing application provides file upload and processes this data into the database. This will be replaced with a folder polling model and use of an integration layer (Logic Apps or Biztalk) to process the data into the database.
Synergy does not support API and is integrated through SQL integration. The principle of copying rather than API read of the data will remain.
Our internal integration developer will be responsible for integration design and implementation to make data available to data layer.
13. Can the project be completely developed and delivered from offshore locations?
Leeds City Council has no objection in principle to offshore development on the basis that the successful tenderer can meet all of the Council’s requirements in full, and fully complies and adheres to the terms and conditions of any call-off contract awarded.
14. 1. Is the submission and evaluation of the application for funding included within the scope, or will the system be handed the results of the evaluation?
2. Is there a data model for the existing or planned application that can be shared?
3. Is the front-end design to be completed by vendor, or will it be provided?
1. Yes. A pupil is banded (A-E) and scored according to a SEND assessment. The submission and evaluation is out of scope. In scope is to translate these bands to points, into funding and budgeting projections according to funding rules.
2. The existing ER model and high level model is provided in Appendix G - see link
3. See also response to Q8. We’d like to minimize front-end design work by using established patterns and ques from the existing design. We recognise some companies may use specialist front-end resource to prototype and want to budget for use.
15. As part of developing this application, would you be open to a short sprint 0 to refine and validate the existing discovery phase items prior to starting development?
Yes. We would see this as an essential part of any proposal received.
16. Would the use of vue.js for the front end be accepted as part of the development tooling?
Yes. We would accept the use of VUE.js
17. a) Is there an incumbent provider for the existing in-house system, or was this developed purely in-house?
b) Did you work with an external provider to complete the discovery work and business case?
c) Would you consider a (largely) pre-built solution, or do you expect this to be developed from scratch?
d) Would you be open to a solution leveraging Power Apps?
a) The existing application was built in house. There are 2 internal developers knowledgeable in the application.
b) See clarification Q2. Discovery work was completed by an internal team of business owners, solution architects and business analysts. Consultation was undertaken with 3rd parties.
c) We would consider it but the proposal received must demonstrate how the solution can be developed to meet our user requirements.
d) We would consider a proposal leveraging Power Apps as Microsoft Stack is a strategic choice for our developments. The proposal received must demonstrate how the solution can be developed to meet our requirements.