Department for Education

Digital Methods to Support Modern Foreign Language GCSE Delivery – Discovery 18/1/18

Incomplete applications

Incomplete applications
2 SME, 1 large

Completed applications

Completed applications
11 SME, 2 large
Important dates
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Published Thursday 18 January 2018
Deadline for asking questions Thursday 25 January 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications Thursday 1 February 2018 at 11:59pm GMT


Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Summary of the work DfE is seeking a supplier to deliver a discovery project to explore whether and how technology might support schools to increase the number of pupils studying modern foreign languages (MFL) GCSEs.
Latest start date Wednesday 7 March 2018
Expected contract length Approximately six weeks
Location London
Organisation the work is for Department for Education
Budget range Estimated Budget of £90, 000 - £110,000 (excluding VAT).
Bidders must fully detail their resources and charges at the proposal stage.
Travel and Subsistence should be included in the proposed charges.

About the work

About the work
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Why the work is being done The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is a school performance measure that measures the achievement of pupils who have gained GCSEs in English, mathematics, history or geography, the sciences and a language.
Government has set an ambition that 75% of year 10 pupils in state-funded mainstream schools should be studying the EBacc combination of subjects by 2022. A programme of activity is underway to support this ambition.
The biggest challenge to meeting this ambition is the proportion of pupils studying modern foreign languages (MFL) GCSEs. The Department wants to explore whether and how digital technology could increase uptake of MFL GCSEs
Problem to be solved The discovery should explore whether and how digital solutions could support schools to increase the number of pupils studying Modern Foreign Languages GCSEs. By the end of the discovery, we expect the supplier to: establish whether there is a viable digital solution that can support MFL GCSE delivery; provide recommendations for any solutions; and provide insights about user needs to support these conclusions. In reaching these conclusions, we would expect the supplier to conduct user-research, focussing on the following questions: 1) how can digital help schools overcome teacher supply challenges? 2) how can digital improve pupil perceptions of MFL GCSEs?
Who the users are and what they need to do We would expect the discovery to define user-stories for the following users: head teachers; heads of MFL departments; MFL teachers; pupils studying MFL GCSEs; pupils choosing GCSE options.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done We have spoken informally with a small number of users, subject experts and MFL ed tech suppliers, as part of limited pre-discovery work. Full details of this will be shared with the supplier during the project setup phase. The pre-discovery work:
• Confirmed evidence of the barriers to increasing MFL uptake and provided informal evidence that there is scope for technology to support schools to overcome these.
• Confirmed that MFL teachers are open to using technology in their teaching in a range of ways, and would be open to further use of technology.
Existing team The supplier will work closely with colleagues/teams from Teacher Sufficiency Group and Curriculum Policy Division. These teams have limited experience of agile/discovery methodologies. Curriculum Policy will provide a policy professional (1 FTE for the duration of the project); this person will act as a key liaison point and provide policy input, taking on many of the responsibilities of a product manager (though we expect the discovery team to provide a product manager to complement this). We expect the supplier to provide all of the roles required to deliver a discovery project.
Current phase Discovery

Work setup

Work setup
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Address where the work will take place We expect the supplier will be co-located with the DfE at their offices. This may be at:
• London – Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BT; or
• Croydon – Trafalgar House, Bedford Park, Croydon, CR0 2AQ.

We also expect the supplier to travel to locations within London and the South East of England, as appropriate, to undertake research (limited travel could also be required to other regions in England, as yet undefined).
Working arrangements We expect the discovery team to work according to agile methodology, in line with the principles set out in the GDS Service Manual.
We expect the discovery team to work 5 days per week for the duration of the discovery, primarily based onsite in DfE offices unless offsite conducting user-research.
DfE will provide office space; if any specialist space is required for user-research, this will need to be sourced by the discovery team. The supplier should also provide their own IT equipment, though DfE can provide access to DfE systems and assets as necessary.
Security clearance BPSS clearance is required for all team members. This will need to be in place before the start of the discovery. We will consider suppliers without security clearance, and provide support to gain clearance.

Additional information

Additional information
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Additional terms and conditions DfE shall have the right to terminate the Contract at any time, by giving 4 weeks written notice to the Supplier, and DfE's liability thereto shall be for costs reasonably incurred by the Supplier up until the termination date. Suppliers must confirm acceptance of this term.
All title to and all rights and interest in the IPR’s in the Services delivered by the Supplier for the Customer under this Call-Off Contract (or by a third party on behalf of the Supplier), and all updates and amendments of these items, shall vest in the Customer.

Skills and experience

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

Skills and experience
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
Essential skills and experience
  • Recent and demonstrable experience in delivering evidence-based research to inform a user-centred design, focused on user needs, end-to-end user journeys, motivations and goals
  • Recent and demonstrable experience of designing and developing services that meet identified user needs and business objectives
  • Demonstrable evidence of working successfully with users in the school/education landscape or in similar public services contexts
  • Recent demonstrable experience of delivering discovery projects in accordance with Government Digital Standards (GDS)
  • Recent and demonstrable evidence of managing and delivering discovery projects, meeting all requirements and successfully delivering outcomes within specified timescales
  • Recent and demonstrable experience of working with in-house teams with limited Agile experience and sharing knowledge to develop in-house team capability
  • Recent and demonstrable experience of working with public sector organisations, such as central and local government
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Demonstrable experience of working with the Department for Education
  • Demonstrable experience working successfully with educational technology stakeholders
  • Demonstrable knowledge of the education and education policy landscape
  • Demonstrable experience of digital learning services/solutions

How suppliers will be evaluated

How suppliers will be evaluated
Opportunity attribute name Opportunity attribute value
How many suppliers to evaluate 5
Proposal criteria
  • Evidence that the proposed approach and methodology for discovery will successfully ascertain user needs and meet specified objectives for the discovery
  • Proposed plan of activities with clear deliverables and dates demonstrating the ability to complete the delivery of the discovery project within the required timescales
  • Proposed supplier team structure, with evidence to demonstrate a strong team and how their skills and experience will deliver the required outcome
  • Evidence that the supplier has an appreciation of the education and educational tech policy landscape and that the proposal is relevant to that context
  • Identification of key options, assumptions, dependencies, risk and issues, with robust approaches to addressing them
  • Evidence of how the proposal represents value for money for DfE
  • Demonstration of ability to work with in-house teams with limited technical and Agile expertise
  • Proposed approach to making use of existing pre-discovery research
  • Proposed approach to co-location of the team with DfE
Cultural fit criteria
  • Demonstration of a proactive approach, taking responsibility for work and resolving issues quickly, without an over reliance on the client team
  • Demonstration of working in a transparent and collaborative way with DfE
  • Demonstration of an understanding of DfE’s need to deliver the best value for money solution
  • Demonstration of ability to work at the boundary between modern digital ways of working and DfE/Government’s formal procedures and policies
Payment approach Fixed price
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Case study
  • Work history
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

Questions asked by suppliers
Supplier question Buyer answer
1. Is the existing team based in London or Croydon? The existing teams are based in London and we expect the supplier to be primarily based in the DfE London office. The supplier may be required to work offsite for user research.
2. As part of pre-discovery work did the department encounter any users with assisted digital needs? No. The pre-discovery work was limited in scope so did not allow for this.
3. Does the Department have access to a bank of head teachers; heads of MFL departments; MFL teachers that can be approached for user research? The department will prepare a list of schools to participate in user research in preparation for the discovery. The department will support the supplier in contacting schools and teachers, during the discovery
4. Does the Department for Education consider this work to be in or out of scope of IR35? We consider this procurement to be out of scope for IR35 but recommend that bidders undertake their own due diligence in regards to the eligibility of the intermediaries legislation based on their own individual circumstances.