Standards and Testing Agency (STA), an executive agency of the Department for Education (DfE)

Multiplication Tables Check (MTC) Support - STA 0255/ Jaggaer Ref: Project_4608

4 Incomplete applications

2 SME, 2 large

1 Completed application

1 SME, 0 large

Important dates

Published
Tuesday 1 June 2021
Deadline for asking questions
Tuesday 8 June 2021 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Tuesday 15 June 2021 at 11:59pm GMT

Overview

Off-payroll (IR35) determination
Summary of the work
Maintain and support the live running of the MTC service, including load testing assurance.

Continuously improve the service in-between cycles.

To potentially explore opportunities to deliver service in house.

Maintain and improve the MTC CICD build pipeline in Azure DevOps

Support and collaborate with other STA digital projects
Latest start date
Sunday 1 August 2021
Expected contract length
12 Months
Location
West Midlands
Organisation the work is for
Standards and Testing Agency (STA), an executive agency of the Department for Education (DfE)
Budget range
C 500k Budget including expenses for attendance at site monthly and ad-hoc meetings quarterly. Budget based on time and materials (21 working day month) with expectation 25 days annual leave for each contractor.

About the work

Why the work is being done
The STA is looking to procure a technical partner to maintain and support the running of the MTC service in the 2021 and 2022 cycles. The supplier will be expected to help facilitate handover to in-house delivery teams over this contract. The supplier is expected to engage in any discovery or alpha projects, possibly led by other suppliers, to further support the aims of the agency. In between MTC cycles we will be acting on feedback and user research to enhance the service, support IT Health Checks and make amendments to improve in-house supportability.

Key dates: Contract start date 19 July 2021, with hand over from existing supplier until 1 September (with room for 1 month extension on closedown)

1 April 2022 (exact date tbc) service goes live to all primary schools with service closing when MTC data is published, expected end of October 2022
Problem to be solved
To support the live running of the MTC service, maintain technical documentation, maintain and enhance the CICD pipeline, ensure all new development is quality assured, make enhancements between cycles. To support the transition of MTC to DDaT colleagues who will then be responsible for the service, maintenance and enhancement of MTC for STA in future cycles.

Estimated userbase for each cycle is c16k primary schools with 2-3 users each, 650k year 4 pupils to sit the check, 15-30 internal helpdesk users, and small number of key internal STA users (service manager and assessment developer)
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a Teacher - I complete (all onscreen) check administration tasks - i.e. pupil register, access arrangements, generation of pupil PINs, arrange restarts, and (post-check) sign declaration and view results; so that pupils can take the check, and receive support.

As a Pupil - I take the check, so I demonstrate fluent recall of tables.

As a Service Manager – I set up check cycles, review system performance and MI so I identify issues.

As a Test Developer - I upload check forms, and review their performance so they remain valid.

As a Helpdesk user - I impersonate school screens see so I can support users.

There are other non direct users, such as statisticians who need access to data to produce statistical publications
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
The MTC service has been in development since January 2016 and passed all essential GDS assessments. In 2019, the service ran a national voluntary pilot in which approx. two thirds of the pupil population participated (c10k schools and 400k pupils). Significant improvements have been made to the service since this pilot.

However, the 2020 cycle was suspended, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The 2021 cycle is currently running on an optional basis for schools with good engagement from the sector
GitHub: https://github.com/DFEAGILEDEVOPS/MTC
Existing team
The STA will provide:

Product Owner, Service Manager, Delivery Manager and Business Analysis

With the Covid-19 pandemic and the suspension of all National Curriculum Assessments the existing supplier, with contract expiry of 2 September, has been scaled down to 1 x Technical Architect, 1 x Full stack developer and 1 x Quality Assurance to continue work through backlog and be in a position to enable a handover to any new supplier, this resource is not expected to increase.
Current phase
Live

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
While suppliers will generally be expected to work remotely, STAs main centre of operations is at Cheylesmore House, Coventry, and suppliers will be expected to attend this office at least once every four weeks with other occasional (potentially quarterly) planning sessions to be held at a convenient location.

There may also be some additional travel requirements needed at the beginning of the contract to enable key STA stakeholders and the supplier to build a new relationship and establish ways of working.
Working arrangements
The MTC project works through a Test Driven Development within an agile Kanban methodology with a WiP limit of 2 items and expectation that 85% of all items make it through the build pipeline with 10 working days or less. The supplier will be expected to use the data on PBIs in Azure DevOps board and report monthly to the PO on this target.

The majority of work will be completed remotely, using tools such as Microsoft teams, Azure devOps, Sharepoint and Slack to maintain communications and documentation. Travel will be kept to a bear minimum.
Security clearance
Due to the high number of sensitive pupil records in the service, all contractors will be expected to be cleared to BPSS minimum before commencement. Evidence of cyber essential plus certification also required with bid.

More info: https://www.cyberessentials.ncsc.gov.uk/getting-certified/

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
DfE shall have the right to terminate the Contract at any time, by giving 28 days written notice to the Supplier, and DfE's liability thereto shall be limited to costs reasonably incurred by the Supplier up until the termination date only.

All IPRs (as defined) in the Project-Specific IPRs and the Deliverables shall vest in the Buyer unconditionally and immediately upon their creation. The Supplier shall procure all necessary permissions or licence from relevant third parties as necessary to allow the Buyer to receive the Services and use the deliverables.

Suppliers should have and maintain a cyber essentials plus certificate.

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
  • Have proven capability and experience in: NodeJS with SQL Server on Azure. Use of Redis Cache, Azure and associated services such as FrontDoor and ServiceBus
  • Be experienced in developing single page applications (SPA)
  • Be experience in scale on demand, high performance web based applications and practical application of encryption
  • Have expertise in automated (testing) environments and implementing continuous integration, delivery & deployment using languages such as Ruby, Java Script, Typescript, Bash and SQL
  • Be familiar with developing production ready open source code for private/public Beta releases and use of GitHub; and Azure DevOps
  • Be experienced in delivering high quality user orientated digital services practising Kanban Methodology and meet the GDS Digital Service Standard/Tech Code of Practice
  • Have expertise of Application Insights and monitoring performance and security of the services.
  • Have expertise of maintaining and developing CICD build pipelines in Azure DevOps and ensuring controlled releases
  • Have experience in developing on browser features (i.e speech synthesis)
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Experience of delivering national services for UK government departments and/or public bodies
  • Knowledge and experience of working in the English state schools/statutory education sector.
  • Experience of managing and proactively engaging a diverse range of internal and external (public sector) stakeholders and building relationships to support digital transformation

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
3
Proposal criteria
  • Technical solution
  • Approach and methodology
  • How the approach or solution meets user needs
  • How the approach or solution meets your organisation’s policy or goal
  • Value for money
  • Estimated timeframes for the work
Cultural fit criteria
  • Demonstrate experience of managing and proactively engaging a diverse range of internal and external (public sector) stakeholders and building relationships to support digital transformation
  • Share knowledge and experience with other team members and suppliers
  • Can work with clients with low technical expertise
  • Be transparent and collaborative when making decisions
  • Be open and honest when spikes need addressing to find the right technical solution to a problem
  • Be disciplined when working remotely
  • Be open about technical debt that needs addressing and challenge priorities if it needs addressing
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
  • Case study
  • Work history
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence

75%

Cultural fit

5%

Price

20%

Questions asked by suppliers

1. Is there currently a contract in place with a supplier to support this service?
Yes, there is.
2. "Can you please provide more detail on the types of browser features you’re referring to (eg: speech synthesis)?
And can you clarify whether there are browser native, or through using screen reader software via browser extensions?"
There are several browser native features that are present: speech api, audio, css, ajax, browser sercurity model, storage api and nginx. The pupil single page application (SPA) is complex with a vast number of potential confuration opions that would need to be catered for, over numerous browsers.
3. You describe the 3 roles which are currently supporting the service. Do you anticipate these will be what you need post-September, or will the role profiles change?
The expectation is that the requirement for a technical architect, senior developer and quality assurance will be required for development, support and continuous improvement post-September, for the duration of the 12-month contract, without any changes to the role profiles.
4. Can you please confirm what you are looking for when you ask for experience of; delivering national services?
Experience in developing country-wide public facing service (over 700,000 users for this service), working to GDS standards as required within the civil service, with flexibility to accomodate for changes in policy.
5. Is this inside or outside of IR35, please?
Outside of IR35

The deadline for asking questions about this opportunity was Tuesday 8 June 2021.