This opportunity is closed for applications

The deadline was Friday 8 April 2022
Department for Education

User Research Participants: Recruitment and Incentive Payments

2 Incomplete applications

2 SME, 0 large

5 Completed applications

5 SME, 0 large

Important dates

Friday 25 March 2022
Deadline for asking questions
Friday 1 April 2022 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Friday 8 April 2022 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
DfE needs participants for regular user research. We need the supplier to consistently deliver diverse and representative participants nationwide, including users with access and assisted digital needs, professionals from all educational and social work settings plus members of the public. Participants need to be representative of the whole of society.
North West England
Research dates
From June 2022
Organisation the work is for
Department for Education
Budget range
Budget approval is subject to internal DfE approvals.
A pipeline of activity is foreseen over the next 24 months, with an indicative budget against the requirements for this capability being £550,000, but that scope could expand or contract.

Each Statement of Work will outline the work required and the associated budget, suppliers will need to provide clear costs to enable tracking.

DfE does not commit to any minimum or maximum spend under this arrangement.

About the work

Early market engagement

About the research

Description of your participants
This list is illustrative not exhaustive.

• Teachers and school leaders e.g. trainee teachers, headteachers, academy directors, and people retuning to teaching
• School staff e.g. administrative staff, safeguarding leads
• People who work in Local Authorities in education and social care e.g. policymakers, support staff
• People involved in training and career development e.g. training providers, career advisors, youth workers
• Suppliers of goods and services for schools
• People involved in child social care e.g. social workers, those in care or who have been in the care system
• People who live and work internationally e.g. people teaching abroad
• Childcare providers such as childminders, nursery practitioners

Members of the public:
• People looking to start their career or change career
• Parents of school aged children, or of children with special education needs/disabilities
• Pupils and students (4-18 years, university students, adult learners)
• People often overlooked by government – e.g. gypsy, homeless, migrant workers

Participants will also need to be diverse, e.g:
• represent the full range of protected characteristics (Equality Act 2010)
• have low digital confidence
• have access needs
• be an immigrant or refugee
• have English as a second language
Assisted digital and accessibility requirements
Access needs (including but not limited to):
-conditions affecting dexterity/mobility e.g. arthritis, MS
-low vision or registered as blind
-neurodiverse participants, e.g. dyslexia, ADHD, autism, dyscalculia
-hearing loss or people who identify as d/Deaf
-use assistive tools for their devices or modify set-up for internet access e.g. screen readers, screen magnifiers

Assisted digital needs (including but not limited to):
-low confidence with online activity or using computers
-use computers infrequently
-no device to access the internet
-need help to complete an online application
-willing to try/learn new things on a computer
-need help from friends/family to carry out online tasks.
Research plan
The contract will cover multiple research plans. The recruiter will be expected to be able to adapt to new requirements, work in an agile way and respond to briefs for both a 2-week sprint period as well as a long phase of work – e.g. 3-6 months.

Types of research:

The contract will cover various types of research methods. For example:
• interviews
• diary studies
• usability testing
• contextual observations
• group sessions and workshops
• card sorting
Research location
This is a national opportunity.

DfE requires a supplier to provide a wide/varying range of participants across predominantly England/Wales. A proportion of participants are likely to be required in and nearby London, Coventry, Manchester, and Sheffield. We also require participants in rural areas.

We may also conduct contextual research and require participants to allow us onsite at their workplace.

Each Statement-of-Work (SoW) will detail the specific place the research will be carried out (e.g. lab, in a DfE office, at home or remote) and where participants will need to be located. We anticipate a mix of remote and in-person research.
Access restrictions at location
Each SoW will identify the research location, along with all restrictions that may affect participants, including access. Our DfE buildings are all wheelchair accessible. DfE will work with the successful supplier to understand any further restrictions that may not have been identified.
Number of research rounds
Various. There is no fixed number of rounds.
Number of participants a round
The average number is 5-8 for in-person research and potentially 10+ for unmoderated research. However, this may fluctuate depending on the project and will be detailed in the Statement of Work (SoW).
How often research will happen
The frequency of research will fluctuate. We are looking for a supplier that can be flexible to our needs and handle periods of high demand. For example, a supplier could be expected to support 10 different Statements of Work at one time when demand is high.
Evening or weekend research
  • Weekday evenings
  • Weekends

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
We require the supplier to be flexible in how they pay participants. E.g. BACS, vouchers, donations to charity.

We also require the supplier to be able to supply incentive payments only where researchers have sourced their own participants.

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
  • Ability to recruit participants nationwide (predominantly England & Wales)
  • Ability to recruit a diverse range of participants that are representative of society
  • Ability to recruit participants with disabilities (19% of working age population), access needs, low digital literacy, and low digital confidence
  • Experience of successfully working in an agile way and being able to adapt to changing requirements
  • Excellent organisational skills that will support our user researchers with admin tasks such as scheduling interviews, rearranging interviews, sending documentation to participants, and any other ad hoc support
  • A clear process for supporting participants who have access needs e.g. sending information and documentation in an accessible format
  • A clear process for onboarding new projects and understanding requirements
  • A clear process for evaluating performance and participant fit alongside a commitment to iteratively improving
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Experience of successfully recruiting participants in the education sector (including professional users)
  • Experience of successfully recruiting participants in the child social care sector
  • Experience of creative problem solving to source harder to reach participants (such as disabled users, users who are offline, non-binary, etc.) such as building relationships with charities and support organisation.
  • Variety of recruitment methods including online/offline that target mainstream and niche user-groups, including building relationships with relevant organisations to recruit hard to recruit users such as those with access needs
  • Ability to recruit participants from communities that are often overlooked by government – e.g. gypsy, traveller roma, homeless, migrant workers)

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Specify your estimated timeframes for both mainstream and harder to reach users, using the ‘description of participants’ section as a guide
  • Detail your approach to recruiting professional users (e.g. teachers, employers, academics) and provide evidence of previous success
  • Detail your approach to recruiting participants from a diverse range of backgrounds and provide evidence of previous success
  • How you aim to provide participants that are representative of all society (e.g. 15.2% of UK population are estimated to be non-white, an estimated 19% of working adults are disabled).
  • Detail your approach to recruiting participants with access needs and assisted digital needs and provide evidence of previous success
  • Describe how you ensure that the participant is ready and set up to take part in the research session (e.g. able to access MS Teams).
  • Your organisation’s approach for screening participants
  • How your organisation incentivises participants to participate, including how and when you pay any incentives to participants
  • Provide a rate card detailing your recruitment costs and incentives for each of the indicative target user groups
  • Detail your online and offline approaches to recruitment and building relationships with other avenues for recruitment
  • Detail the end-to-end process of the interaction a user researcher will have with you during a SoW (e.g. from initial contact to post-research communications)
  • Give an example of a time you failed to provide an appropriate participant and how you rectified the situation
  • Demonstrate your ability to form a relationship with us - including regular check ins with researchers throughout the SoW and semi-regular check ins with Research Operations team regarding the contract
  • Demonstrate your ability to work in partnership with the Research Operations team to improve ways of working and processes to ensure the contract runs smoothly and efficiently for all parties
  • Please explain how your company will support staff wellbeing during the Covid 19 recovery period.
Additional assessment methods
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence






Questions asked by suppliers

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