Awarded to Engine Partners UK LLP (The Engine Group)

Start date: Tuesday 12 June 2018
Value: £88,142
Company size: large
Department for Education

Discovery of a Teachers' Student Loan Reimbursement Service

2 Incomplete applications

1 SME, 1 large

33 Completed applications

21 SME, 12 large

Important dates

Published
Tuesday 17 April 2018
Deadline for asking questions
Tuesday 24 April 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Tuesday 1 May 2018 at 11:59pm GMT

Overview

Summary of the work
DfE require a highly skilled, collaborative supplier with experience in delivering digital services that meet users' needs and in line with the GDS Digital Service Standard to deliver the discovery of a service for reimbursing teachers' student loan payments.
Latest start date
Monday 30 April 2018
Expected contract length
4 weeks
Location
North West England
Organisation the work is for
Department for Education
Budget range
£90,000 - £100,000

About the work

Why the work is being done
The Department, delivering on a manifesto commitment, is developing a service to enable eligible teachers to apply for student loan reimbursements to help increase recruitment and retention in areas of most need.
Problem to be solved
By 1st September 2019, we need a business solution and operating system that allows us to verify and process claims in an timely and automated way on a yearly basis for at least 10 years.
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a teacher, I need to be able to make an application so I can receive my student loan reimbursement.
As the Department for Education, we need to be able to verify and process claims so we can reimburse student loans.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
Existing team
Senior Responsible Officer (Assistant Director), Product Owner
Current phase
Discovery

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Department for Education, Piccadilly Gate, Store Street, Manchester. M1 2WD
Working arrangements
Working principally from DfE's Manchester office, maximising opportunity for engagement with policy units and stakeholders. Some travel to other DfE sites, and to meet users is expected. Expenses must be included in the contract sum, there is no separate budget for this. Operate a standard agile scrum methodology: daily stand-ups, sprint planning, sprints, retrospectives, show and tells. Supplier will lead by being a role model in agile working. They will need to collaborate with our team and invest time in knowledge sharing and coaching to increase DfE staff capability. Product owner works part-time, 4 days a week.
Security clearance

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
  • Examples of delivering digital services using an agile team (per the GDS Service Manual) and meet the Digital Service Standard/Tech Code of Practice
  • Demonstrate experience designing services for a wide range of digital skills and confidence
  • Experience in leading an agile team as well as to coach, mentor and upskill people in agile techniques and roles to build capability within existing teams
  • Be agnostic of any particular software, enabling us to consider a range of options to meet user needs
  • Demonstrate experience of a range of User Research methods
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Experience of developing design patterns that can be re-used for other services
  • Demonstrate experience of managing and proactively engaging internal stakeholders and building relationships to support digital transformation
  • Demonstrate experience of delivering services for UK government departments or public bodies
  • Demonstrate knowledge and experience of working in the schools sector
  • Demonstrate experience of passing GDS Service Standard Assessments

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
3
Proposal criteria
  • Clear approach with evidence that it will successfully identify user needs
  • Plan of activities with clear deliverables and dates that demonstrate completion of the project within the required timescales
  • Clear team structure and demonstration of how their skills and experience will deliver the requirement
  • Evidence that the supplier has an understanding of the policy landscape and that the proposal is relevant to that context
  • Identification of key assumptions, dependencies, risks and issues, with robust mitigation plans
  • Evidence of how the proposal represents value for money for DfE
Cultural fit criteria
  • Demonstrate your approach to engaging with internal senior stakeholders undergoing cultural change and how this will support project success
  • Demonstrate how you will work transparently, collaboratively and share your approach with the DfE project team and seek actionable feedback
  • Demonstrate an understanding of DfE’s need to deliver the best value for money solution
  • Demonstrate ability to work at the boundary between modern digital ways of working and DfE/Government’s formal procedures and policies
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence

60%

Cultural fit

20%

Price

20%

Questions asked by suppliers

1. Please can you clarify the timeframes. The latest start date states 30 April, but submissions are only due on 01 May. When is a realistic start date?
The latest start date is 30 May 2018
2. Could you clarify the Latest start date? It says 30th April, while the closing date for applications is 1st May.
The latest start date is 30 May 2018
3. The deadline for this opportunity is stated as 1st May 2018. The latest start date given for the work to commence is 30th April 2018, which is prior to the submission deadline. Please could you confirm both the deadline date and latest start date?
The latest start date is 30 May 2018
4. Hi The submission deadline for responses at Stage 1 of the bid process is 1st May. Your spec indicates your latest start date is 30th April, the day before. Could you pls advise re. your revised timescales i.e. revised latest start date? Many thanks
The latest start date is 30 May 2018
5. Do you want the supplier to work on site or can they work majority remotely with site visits when necessary?
We want the supplier to work on site. Remote working will be acceptable as an exception, with prior agreement by the DfE product owner, and as long as project outcomes are not affected.
6. A 4 week window for the project will be very difficult to fit in user recruitment, all the user activities, write up and presentations of findings and recommendations. GDS allows up to 8 weeks for a Discovery of this size. What is determining your very tight timelines?
Discovery needs to be done quickly so key milestones can be met for the delivery of this policy. There may be scope for some negotiation over timescales.
7. Has any User Research been done that could be used in this 4-week period? Or, you want a fresh set of User research to be done as part of this project?
No User Research has been conducted in this particular problem space, but there has been some research with similar users that may be of relevance. Primarily though, new User Research would need to be completed as part of this project.
8. If the User Research needs to be conducted in this project, do you have those identified from withing the DfE? Could we enlist them for the user research?
We do not have any identified from within the DfE, they would need to be sourced during the project. We do, however, have some proven, successful methods for recruiting similar research candidates that could be used for this discovery.
9. We’d like to better understand your current Agile methodology experience to up-skill appropriately. What is your teams' current experience with Agile methodologies?
DfE is experienced in Agile methodology and it is set out in the service manual; however, some members of the team will be new to the methodology so we will expect appropriate support systems to be in place.
10. Does the Department consider this work to be in or out of scope of IR35?
Department expects all suppliers to have made their own assessment of whether IR35 applies
11. Good morning, Please could you clarify the following: 1. The four week contract length and if this is the required timescales, do you have a pre-selected panel of participants for the research? 2. The start date of the project (30th April) falls before the closing date for applications - is this correct? 3. Do you require the selected agency to provide Business Analysts/Technical Architect role? 4. Has any research or pre-Discovery already been undertaken? 5. Is there an existing system for the service? Many thanks in advance.
1. Contract length may be negotiable. We do not have a pre-selected panel of participants.
2. Latest start date 30 May
3. No need to provide a Business Analyst for this Discovery work. We do not expect a need for a full-time Business Analyst, but if resource is required, the supplier should be able to anticipate and meet those needs
4. No User Research/pre-Discovery undertaken in this particular problem space, but there has been some potentially relevant research with similar users. Primarily, new User Research needs to be completed for this project.
5. No existing digital system for this service.
12. Is there likely to be an Alpha delivery following on after Discovery? Will there be a hiatus in between while DfE re-procures a new Alpha delivery team via DOS, or can the Discovery team move directly into Alpha delivery if the Discovery is successful?
The outcome of Discovery will determine further phases. DfE will re-procure for a supplier for the Alpha and this is likely to be through DOS. If so, the discovery supplier will be able to bid for any further work on this project.
13. Can you say more about what would make a teacher ‘eligible’ to apply for student loan reimbursements? Has the department developed the policy in this area sufficiently well to describe criteria for eligibility?
Full eligibility criteria can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/teachers-student-loan-reimbursement-guidance-for-teachers-and-schools
14. Will the eligibility criteria for loan reimbursements apply to both undergraduate and postgraduate teachers?
Full eligibility criteria can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/teachers-student-loan-reimbursement-guidance-for-teachers-and-schools
15. Will the eligibility criteria for loan reimbursements be different for teachers working in different parts of the country - e.g. for teachers working in opportunity areas - or not?
Yes, this pilot only covers 25 Local Authorities. Full eligibility criteria can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/teachers-student-loan-reimbursement-guidance-for-teachers-and-schools
16. Will the eligibility criteria for loan reimbursements be different for teachers teaching different subjects? E.g. for subjects where we know there are shortages of teachers?
Yes, this pilot only applies to biology, chemistry, computer science, languages and physics teachers. Full eligibility criteria can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/teachers-student-loan-reimbursement-guidance-for-teachers-and-schools
17. Can you say more about the technical system(s) that record details of student finance (as loans) to teachers? Do you know whether information about loans to teachers are recorded in one software system and if so, where the service owners for that system are based?
Student Loans Company (SLC) holds details of teachers’ total loan amounts. The discovery will seek to understand what information is needed in order to build a successful service and whether or not SLC can and should provide this information.
18. Are Student Loans Company or Student Finance England investigating the feasibility of reimbursing loans to teachers separately or do you expect the Discovery team to cover technical feasibility?
Student Loans Company (SLC) holds details of teachers’ total loan amounts. The project will seek to understand what information is needed in order to build a successful service and whether or not SLC can and should provide this information. Should we proceed to Alpha, we expect that most of the technical feasibility work will occur here.
19. What is the policy intent behind reimbursing loans? Is there any evidence that making loan reimbursements will meet the desired policy intent?
The policy aims to increase the recruitment and retention of biology, chemistry, computer science, MFL and physics teachers. We will be undertaking a full evaluation of the pilot to assess its impact.
20. what is anticipated breakdown of on-site versus other sites? is the expectation that the supplier would 'lead' the project ie providing an agile project manager and rest of the team?
We expect the Discovery team to work alongside DfE colleagues, including a novice DfE product owner and SMEs in DfE offices in Manchester. We expect the supplier to provide the remainder of the team and to provide some coaching and support of the DfE product owner.

A project manager will not be necessary as the team will work in an Agile way. Please refer to the service manual for information about the types of role typically required in a discovery https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/the-team/set-up-a-service-team#the-service-team-you-need-in-each-phase
21. Are there plans for an inception/development phase following the discovery – if so, when? and will the discovery supplier be able to bid for any follow-on work?
If the discovery demonstrates that there is evidence of sufficient user need, we will likely proceed to an Alpha phase. The discovery supplier will be able to bid for any further work on this project.
22. Post discovery, are DfE considering/preferring any of these approaches?... a. an on-premise bespoke solution delivered as a service b. an on-premise bespoke solution to be handed over to DfE on completion c. a bespoke solution delivered as an outsourced service on premise, nearshore or offshore?
At this stage we don't know. If the discovery demonstrates that there is evidence of sufficient user need, we will likely proceed to an Alpha phase. The Alpha phase will seek to identify the best solution through prototyping and user testing.
23. What roles are currently in place in your team?
There is currently a Product Owner in place for this team, subject matter experts will be made available.
24. Has an external supplier helped shape this work to date, is so which supplier?
No external supplier has helped shape this work.
25. Are their particular services that you anticipate ingesting data from?
Not as yet. The discovery will seek to understand what information is needed in order to build a successful service
26. At first glance a key issue for a short 4 week Discovery will be sourcing users/participants for user research, this would typically have to be put in place ahead of time. The DfE mentions having proven, successful methods for recruiting similar research candidates that could be used for this Discovery - how long is the lead-time for sourcing these participants i.e. if we made use of these methods how long into the four weeks before we would have direct access to willing participants in order to start conducting the research activities?
It isn't possible to give a definite answer to this question, but we have been and are currently researching with working teachers, newly qualified teachers, and teacher training candidates on a number of deliveries. Some of these are willing to be contacted again. The DfE also has the means to contact groups of teachers and school professionals to invite them to participate in research, via email and other means. We'd therefore expect research to be able to commence within a matter of days.
27. We have noticed the first essential criteria and last nice to have criteria points are very similar. Can you confirm the difference here, and what you are looking for - "Demonstrate experience of passing GDS Service Standard Assessments" and "Examples of delivering digital services using an agile team (per the GDS Service Manual) and meet the Digital Service Standard/Tech Code of Practice".
These requirements are similar but it is possible to have developed services that meet the service standard without having passed a service standard assessment. For example, where a supplier only participated in a discovery; where they were part of a team that were assessed but did not participate in the assessment.
28. Dear Sir / Madam Could you clarify the dates for this contract? It states on the opportunity that Closing date for applications is Tuesday 1 May 2018 at 11:59pm GMT But the start date of the contract is Monday 30th April 2018. We were just wondering if you could clarify what the start date should be? Kind Regards
The latest start date is 30 May
29. Do you have an idea of what roles you would expect the supplier to provide, and what roles DfE to provide?
DfE will provide a product owner, an SRO and SMEs. We expect the supplier to provide the remainder of the team and to provide some coaching and support of the DfE product owner. Please refer to the service manual for information about the types of role typically required in a discovery https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/the-team/set-up-a-service-team#the-service-team-you-need-in-each-phase
30. Have you considered the roles you would like to see in the discovery? What roles is the department able to provide?
DfE will provide a product owner, an SRO and SMEs. We expect the supplier to provide the remainder of the team and to provide some coaching and support of the DfE product owner. Please refer to the service manual for information about the types of role typically required in a discovery https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/the-team/set-up-a-service-team#the-service-team-you-need-in-each-phase
31. How did you estimate the budget required for this discovery? Have you carried out early engagement with any suppliers?
There has been no early engagement with any suppliers. The budget has been estimated using forecast models based on our own experience.
32. Has DfE done any thinking on how it might verify applications from people for loan reimbursement? If so, can it share its thoughts?
We expect this insight to emerge from the discovery.
33. Would it be possible to clarify what you are proposing with regard to 'Capped time and materials' please? Are you looking for responses to indicate what the Discovery might entail, or are you looking to set a budget available? If you are looking to set a budget, can you indicate what it might be please?
The budget is a maximum of £100k. Responses should outline what Discovery would include, ensuring this is within budget and timeframes.
34. In respect of the answer to question 10. Although suppliers have a responsibility to check their IR35 status the onus is now (since April 2017) on the Department as the contracting Public Body to also do so. Can you confirm that the department has done this?
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.
35. Although the notice describes a T&M contract - would DfE be interested in an all-inclusive, Fixed Priced Contract based on an outcome as an alternative to T&M?
We will only consider a capped time and materials contract as stated on the specification.
36. You mention that you have "some proven, successful methods for recruiting similar research candidates that could be used for this discovery." Should it be assumed that DfE will be able to arrange such participation at zero cost? If not, do you require indicative user recruitment and incentive costs to be included within proposals, or do you expect them to be passed on to the Agency as 'materials'?
DfE have and are researching with working teachers, newly qualified teachers, and teacher training candidates on a number of deliveries. Some are willing to be contacted again. DfE also has the means to contact groups of teachers and school professionals to invite them to participate in research, via email etc. We'd therefore expect research to commence within days.
We expect some participation to be minimum/zero cost but we do expect the supplier to provide incentives to candidates. Any costs incurred are to be included as part of the overall cost of the proposal. Incentives guidance in the service manual: https://www.gov.uk/service-manual/user-research/find-user-research-participants#giving-incentives