Awarded to Olive Jar Digital

Start date: Monday 3 September 2018
Value: £1,483,025
Company size: SME
Department for Education

Multiplication Tables Check (MTC) - Live Service Digital Technical Partner

5 Incomplete applications

4 SME, 1 large

2 Completed applications

2 SME, 0 large

Important dates

Monday 9 July 2018
Deadline for asking questions
Monday 16 July 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Monday 23 July 2018 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
DfE require a highly skilled technical development supplier to complete outstanding development of MTC and then move to supporting the digital services in a live environment in line with the GDS standards. DfE are looking to secure a Technical Architect, Full Stack Developer(s) and Quality Assurance(s).
Latest start date
Monday 3 September 2018
Expected contract length
2 years
No specific location, eg they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
Department for Education
Budget range

About the work

Why the work is being done
DfE are delivering on a government manifesto commitment for: ‘all children to know their times tables by the time they leave primary school’. In 2017, DfE announced that a onscreen multiplication tables check - to assess pupils’ ability to fluently recall their multiplication tables up to and including their 12 x 12 tables, through a set of timed questions - would be administered to Year 4 pupils (aged 8-9 years) in key stage 2 (KS2), with a national pilot in 2019, before it is rolled out as a mandatory assessment for all state-funded (KS2) primary schools in England, in 2020.
Problem to be solved
To complete remaining technical development on both the administration application and pupil check; ensure technical architecture is ready to serve at least 750,000 pupils and 50,000 school admin users (per annum); iterate and improve the pupil app; carry the system into live service; carry out ongoing maintenance when it is live, to ensure the system continues to run smoothly and is secure; carry out continuous improvement/development of the service. For 2019/20 a new user authentication method into the administration application will be required. Possible further development of the e-platform to host other DfE e-assessments (subject to negotiation) may be required.
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a Teacher - I complete (all onscreen) check administration tasks - i.e. pupil registers, access arrangements, generate PINs, arrange restarts, and (post-check) 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 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 call-agent - I remotely view school screens see so I can support users.
Early market engagement
We will be holding an MTC supplier open day on 12 July 2018, at the Department for Education, Sanctuary Buildings, Westminster, SW1P 3BT. Please register your interest by emailing for details.
Any work that’s already been done
Discovery, Alpha and Private Beta have all been successfully completed. We have recently undertaken 3 private Beta tests (one to check system performance and data collection, the second to determine final check pupil recollection times of their times tables, and the third to collect item-level data (i.e. question data) to create final check forms (i.e. questions sets) for the live check).

Existing team
Standards and Testing Agency (STA), which is an executive agency of the Department for Education (DfE). STA personnel: Senior Responsible Officer (Deputy Director), Project Director, Product Owner/Agile-Project Manager, Deputy Agile-Project Manager and Service Manager (designate). And, externally sourced specialist consultancy (all sourced from a DOS2 supplier): Agile delivery manager, Business Analyst, Data Analyst, User Researcher and User Design.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
The Supplier’s representatives will be required to attend (on-site) meetings at DfE/STA Office locations: primarily in London and Coventry. However, the intention is to keep these to a minimum.
Choice of premises and ability to work remotely shall be determined by the Buyer, in consultation with the Supplier and may take into account the Buyer’s intention to keep overall cost of Travel and Subsistence, also time lost to travelling, for all parties to a practical minimum.
Working arrangements
Kanban Agile Project Management - Daily stand-ups - A fortnightly (end-of-)sprint events held in London/Coventry - attendance at these can be via remote access, with minimal travel to London expected. The Buyer expects the Supplier to work in a Test Driven Development environment and fully comply with the principles set out in the GDS Service Manual with priorities for development being determined by STA's Product Owner.
Security clearance
BPSS (Baseline security level) required.

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. Suppliers must confirm acceptance of this term.

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.

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 high quality user orientated digital services with Agile project team practising Kanban. Meet Digital Service Standard/Tech Code of Practice, examples of successfully passed GDS Beta Service assessments
  • Expertise in taking forward user research and usability testing to meet user needs to meet any set acceptance criteria (including assisted digital, users with access needs and accessibility audits)
  • Examples of in house expertise in developing production ready open source code for private/public Beta releases from Discovery and Alpha outputs (e.g. low-fi/hi-fi prototypes) and use of GitHub
  • Expertise in automated (testing) environments and implementing continuous integration, delivery & deployment using languages such as Ruby, Java Script, Typescript, Bash and SQL
  • Expertise, Target Architecture Design, Process and Operations Rationalisation, Design, Organisational Design. Proven experience in scale on demand, high performance web based applications, practical application of encryption ensuring secure online system
  • Existing architecture is mature, we are not looking to make significant changes to this. Suppliers must demonstrate proven capability of development in these areas: NodeJS with SQL Server on Azure.
  • Experience developing SPA’s; check already modified, behaves differently to traditional web application ensuring Pupils are focused throughout the check and cannot accidentally navigate, many standard web browser features (refresh) disabled
  • Examples of tamper proofing of browser data with encryption is also required in the response
  • Supplier must show competence how browser features, speech synthesis, leveraged to assist children with special needs; including special needs users using Apple devices (IOS) ,platforms Windows [7 and up], Linux.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Demonstrate experience of managing, proactively engaging diverse range of internal/ external (public sector) stakeholders, building relationships to support digital transformation, the efficient and effective delivery of digitally enabled public services
  • Demonstrate experience of designing and delivering an online platform and/or digitally-enabled service
  • Demonstrate experience of delivering national services for UK government departments and/or public bodies
  • Demonstrate knowledge and experience of working in the English state schools/statutory education sector

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Evidence that your proposed approach and methodology for delivery will successfully deliver working software to meet user needs and meet specified acceptance criteria
  • Proposed supplier team structure, with evidence to demonstrate a strong team and how their skills and experience will deliver the required outcomes
  • Evidence that the supplier has an appreciation of the education and educational technology policy landscape and that the proposal is relevant to that context.
  • Evidence of how the proposal represents excellent value for money / best value.
  • Demonstration of ability to work with multi-disciplinary DfE/STA in-house teams with limited technical and Agile-project management expertise.
  • Evidence of the required technical capabilities to provide immediate impact and working software
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 in a remote working environment; including expertise of Kanban Agile methodology, and products such as VSO, Slack and Zoom.
  • Demonstration of an understanding of DfE’s need to deliver the best value for money solution.
  • Demonstration of ability to work in a modern digital ways within DfE and GDS formal procedures and policies
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
  • Written proposal
  • Case study
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Presentations
Please note that following the closing date on 23 July 2018, shortlisted suppliers will be notified and invited to deliver a presentation.
The subject, venue and date will be advised to you
2. Do you consider all phases completed to date (Discovery, Alpha and Private Beta) to have been successful?
Discovery and Alpha have been completed successfully, we are currently nearing the final stages of Private Beta
3. Are you happy with the work your current DOS2 supplier has done?
4. Was it always planned to re-tender this project during private beta or did the original award allow for an optional extension of the contract into full public beta and go live?
The original award did not have an optional extension of contract. We had always planned to procure for a live digital service supplier at this stage, being able to complete the development would give a new supplier a good and detailed understanding of the system prior to full rollout of the live statutory check service planned for summer 2020.
5. Under Essential Skills and Experience - Examples of tamper proofing of browser data with encryption is also required in the response Can we please get a some more detail about what this specifically means as it could mean more than one thing. Our assumption is this is not just SSL encryption between the browser and the endpoint.
While the pupil is taking the check on a school device, the data is recorded in browser local storage. There is a requirement to implement mechanisms that can assist in detecting and preventing manual tampering of this data prior to submission back to the api endpoint. We are therefore looking at potential suppliers to give examples of how they have resolved similar issues.