Awarded to Deloitte LLP

Start date: Monday 9 July 2018
Value: £164,342
Company size: large
Department for Education

Alpha (C) - DfE apply to open a new academy trust or free school

2 Incomplete applications

0 SME, 2 large

22 Completed applications

16 SME, 6 large

Important dates

Thursday 24 May 2018
Deadline for asking questions
Thursday 31 May 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Thursday 7 June 2018 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
7 week Alpha developing coded prototypes to support submission and management of applications to DfE to open new academies and free schools. Requires highly skilled, experienced and collaborative supplier. Initial external user research will be supplied by DfE to the successful supplier to inform development.
Latest start date
Thursday 5 July 2018
Expected contract length
1 week inception followed by a 6 week alpha phase
Organisation the work is for
Department for Education
Budget range
Estimated value approximately £140,000 exc VAT

About the work

Why the work is being done
DfE directly manages a growing number of Academies (c 7,500). The System Integration Programme aims to bring greater integration and sharing of data/information across 13 DfE systems currently used to administer academies. This should enable c1,500 internal systems users to concentrate on their core purpose (ensuring more good or outstanding school places in England) by reducing time spent inputting / searching for information. Future services will be delivered in phases: we have delivered one Alpha and a second is underway, focussed on two specific business areas; subsequent Beta phases will see development of 11 inter-related services, covering 50 business processes.
Problem to be solved
We want to improve and integrate the way we administer academies and free schools to: ensure a better user experience for people interacting with DfE when they wish to set up a new school, potentially setting up a new digital service to achieve this; reduce reliance on individuals and enable greater corporate knowledge; ensure people are supported by integrated and intelligent systems to be efficient and effective in their functions; automate manual processes; and ensure reporting and analytical capability is able to compete with the best.
Who the users are and what they need to do
People in organisations that are looking to convert to become an academy or establish a new Trust or free school need to be able to submit an application via a secure service, know what stage their project is at and to receive prompt responses to their queries. They need to have a clear understanding of what the application process involves and of the information and documentation that needs to be submitted. They do not expect to have to submit information which DfE already holds. DfE project managers need real time information about the progress of projects in their region.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
Discovery is taking place looking at experiences of those applying to convert a school to an academy into a new or established trusts in one region, which will provide some user insights. We will also be undertaking internal user research in May-June, which will inform the requirements for this alpha. Already completed an Alpha A in an unrelated business area (Academy Transfers), and Alpha B is underway (Intervention - also unrelated area to Alpha C). We are developing prototypes and writing code based on internal user needs. We have not yet undertaken an alpha in an area involving exernal users.
Existing team
The Product Managers (who oversaw the Discovery and Alpha (A and B) phases) will be supported by a Service Owner, Service Development Officer, Communications Lead, and senior Business Sponsors representing the various parts of the business involved in applications (who will work alongside the supplier to facilitate access to business users). A user researcher to support this alpha is already part of the DfE team. A key user group will be established to represent business users.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
The supplier will split their time between DfE offices (primarily Great Smith Street, Westminster - but there may be the need to attend occasional meetings in the DfE offices in central Sheffield and Manchester) as well as allowing time for them to work at their own offices where required and agreed with customer in advance.
Working arrangements
This is a full-time, 5 days a week arrangement primarily based at DfE offices to support an agile delivery. Time can also be spent time at their own offices when required and agreed with the customer in advance. The development team will host agile ceremonies (stand-ups, show-&-tells, review, retrospectives and sprint planning) which will be mandatory for the Supplier staff/team, and stakeholder workshops where required.
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
  • Recent and demonstrable experience in agile service delivery of a user centred digital service including having been successfully assessed, in a previous project, against the GDS Alpha Service Standard;
  • Recent and demonstrable experience ofsuccess in designing a digital service to replace an existing non-digital service;
  • Can provide suitable expertise, experience and resource to the project within the specified timescales to allow fast progress and high quality delivery.
Nice-to-have skills and experience

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Proposed approach and methodology (10)
  • How approach responds to user needs (6)
  • How timeframes for the work will be met and maximised (6)
  • Risk identification and proposed management of these (4)
  • Team Structure (capacity & capability) (6)
  • Value for Money (8)
Cultural fit criteria
  • Demonstrable evidence of working transparently and collaboratively with organisations and other suppliers (in working practice, decision making etc).
  • Demonstrable evidence of communicating effectively with external and internal users and stakeholders
  • Demonstrable evidence of working at pace to deliver results that will make a positive impact on the business.
Payment approach
Fixed price
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. 1 Could you tell us who carried out Discovery work and Alphas A and B?
Sopra Steria ltd
2. 2 Could you tell us what the expected budget has been based on?
Expectations based on similar projects already undertaken.
3. 3 The pricing basis for this opportunity is fixed price. If we respond with a proposal to carry out the work using agile methodology will you consider an approach which includes fixing time and input, therefore flexing scope?
Yes we would consider this approach.
4. Can you explain the reason why the alpha phase of this project was broken down into three separate alphas? Are you expecting the beta to cover a broad scope and deliver an end-to-end service for submitting applications right through to reporting?
We have broken down the alpha phase into separate alphas due to the wide scope of the work involved in all the interactions that the DfE has with academies and free schools. This scope is too wide to cover in a single alpha. We anticipate that the beta phase will be broken down into separate projects as well, rather than a single beta to cover all the services in scope for alphas A, B and C.
5. Are you expecting a supplier to provide a user researcher to supplement the existing team?
We would like one user researcher to supplement the existing team
6. Have you made any technology choices throughout the discovery and alpha phases of the project? Will this alpha look to build high fidelity prototypes or is use of the GOV.UK frontend toolkit for prototypes sufficient?
We are evaluating different technology options as part of alpha B. We will need to comply with standards for the external facing elements of the prototype, but the internal facing elements (the system that staff will use to manage the service) do not necessarily need to fit with
7. Will DfE be responsible for recruiting user research participants for the project, specifically end users who will be applying and using the service?
In terms of external users, DfE will be able to contact potential research participants. We will also be able to contact internal service users to ask them to participate in user research
8. Have you defined a scope for the beta phase, and what the first iteration of a working service will be?
This is work in progress and we will be able to share with the successful supplier.
9. In order to determine the mix of skills and resources required, could you please advise on what technology options are being considered as part of Alpha B as stated in one of your previous responses.
We are considering whether a Commercial Off-the shelf product or bespoke built solution would best meet our requirements to administer the academies and free schools programmes. Alpha B is investigating whether key elements of the bespoke built solution could work. Alpha C is about supporting the application process for those considering becoming an academy/establishing a free school; looking at how we can best meet external customer’s needs. We want thinking or prototyping to be unconstrained by technological proposals, although we will want to assess whether emerging prototypes could be delivered by our leading technological options and integrated with them effectively.
10. Do you see any advantages of having the same supplier delivering all 3 phases of the alpha as opposed to multiple suppliers
Our primary consideration is to secure the services of an organisation to best meet the requirements we have set out and to ensure delivery of a successful Alpha C. We are open minded as to whether we work with one or multiple suppliers to deliver the 3 Alphas (A, B and C) – there are advantages and disadvantages to each scenario.
11. Is there an incumbent supplier carrying out the delivery, or is it being done in-house?
Alpha A and Alpha B have been undertaken by a third party supplier working with the DfE. The third party supplier is Sopra Steria.
12. Good afternoon. Please see clarification questions below:
i. Do you have a provisional supplier team profile in mind to complement your team?
ii. Will the supplier be responsible for the delivery management of the collective team and the outcomes required?
iii. What levels of security clearance will be required?
iv. Has the Discovery work been done internally by DfE or by a third party supplier?
v. If the latter, are you able to advise who undertook the work?
vi. What is the likelihood of and expectation for a subsequent Beta phase?
i. We expect to provide a user researcher to support Alpha C. Otherwise, as set out in the requirements, it is for the supplier to suggest the most appropriate team profile to deliver a successful Alpha C. The requirements sets out the roles that will be provided by DfE.
ii. Yes.
iii. The team will be required to meet the Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS)
iv. The Discovery was undertaken by a third party supplier.
v. Sopra Steria.
vi. We hope to move into a Beta stage, subject to a successful alpha assessment, in September.
13. vii. Do you have a preferred technology stack?
vii. We are considering whether a Commercial Off-the shelf product or a bespoke built solution would best meet the requirements we have to administer the academies and free schools programmes. In Alpha B, we are investigating whether key elements of the bespoke built solution could work.
14. Is there an expectation for the number of prototypes that this work will cover?
No. Prototype development during alpha C should be carried out in line with the GDS standards and will respond to user research.