Awarded to KPMG LLP

Start date: Monday 8 October 2018
Value: £45,000
Company size: large
Department for Education

User research to improve schools digital guidance content and tools on

4 Incomplete applications

3 SME, 1 large

13 Completed applications

9 SME, 4 large

Important dates

Monday 6 August 2018
Deadline for asking questions
Monday 13 August 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Monday 20 August 2018 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
DfE requires user experience research amongst schools/academies on school resource management guidance and tools covering (a) self-assessment tool, efficiency metric, and workforce planning guidance; and (b) review of financial health checks. Reports with recommendations required to ensure guidance and tools are clear, easy to use, and impact on audience behaviour.
Latest start date
Monday 10 September 2018
Expected contract length
Up to 6 months. Recommendations on service improvements by Nov 18
Organisation the work is for
Department for Education
Budget range
Up to £45,000 ex VAT

About the work

Why the work is being done
DfE makes available guidance and tools ( on to help schools get best value from resources to improve pupil outcomes.
These include:
School resource management self-assessment tool (launched autumn 2018 for academies) which helps schools to compare their use of resources with similar schools. We expect recommendations by early November 2018 to improve tool, which will be available to LA-maintained schools from early 2019.
Efficiency metric ( (improved version based on previous research to be published autumn 2018)
Workforce planning guidance ( (to be converted to HTML)
Financial Health Checks ( directory of third-party suppliers offering financial review services.
Problem to be solved
• Do users understand guidance/tools/metrics/data?
• Do users know how to use tools?
• What actions are users likely to take having used guidance and tools?
Self-assessment tool/efficiency metric:
• Are metrics and comparisons helpful? What is missing?
• Do users understand difference between financial benchmarking and efficiency snapshot?
Financial health checks:
• How do schools identify need for financial support, how do they find it?
• What information do schools needs in order to make a decision about supplier?
• Test improvements in presentation and structure of directory and guidance?
• Does the directory generate leads/add value for suppliers?
Who the users are and what they need to do
As a headteacher, I require an overview of school’s finances, understand how they compare with similar schools, to set and manage budgets. As a school business professional, I require detailed understanding of school's finances, to manage budgets, get best value from resources, and report to governors. As a governor, I need to check if my school's spending is in line with similar schools, to ensure school is using its resources efficiently and challenge financial plans effectively. As a Financial Health Check supplier I need to promote my services effectively so that I can generate new leads in schools.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
User research (2017/18) found:
Content on is potentially useful to all audiences, needs and expectations vary depending on experience and knowledge levels.
Efficiency metric is potentially useful, but users had difficulty using tool, either didn’t understand or misunderstood what the metric was about (and how it differed from benchmarking), and couldn’t articulate how they would use the information.
Self-assessment tool (2018) - stakeholder engagement carried out during the development of tool.
Financial Health Checks (May 2017)
- interest in financial health checks but people are not prioritising these
- need for greater awareness of the service and its benefits
Existing team
The team will be working with DfE officials only
Current phase
Not applicable

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Multiple locations to ensure good socio-demographic mix of schools, eg rural/urban, large/small, phase, sector, 1 or 2 participants ideally have accessibility requirements.
The user research to be undertaken will be with a range of school types, including:
• Phase: primary/secondary/special schools/alternative provision
• Sector: local-authority-maintained/single academy trusts/multi-academy trusts
Working arrangements
We anticipate an initial face-to-face kick off meeting and verbal report presentation. We will organise regular (weekly) telephone status meetings between DfE and supplier.
Security clearance
BPSS (Baseline security level) required.

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
  • Provide examples of working in a multi-disciplinary team
  • 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)
  • Experience of user research among professional audiences
  • Understanding of audiences, segmentation
  • Can communicate effectively to engage a wide set of users across businesses, capture and make sense of user journeys and effectively communicate the results widely, including to senior level audiences
  • Full understanding and demonstrable experience in planning and running a discovery successfully and delivering outcomes within specified timescales
  • 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
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Demonstrate experience of providing recommendations for improving services
  • Experience of the education sector in England
  • Demonstrate experience of managing and proactive engagement with internal stakeholders to support digital/business improvements.

How suppliers will be evaluated

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Demonstrate experience of delivering services for UK government departments or public bodies
  • Proposed methodology
  • Clear outline of team members and structure and demonstration of how their skills and experience will deliver the requirement
  • Demonstrate experience in the 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
  • 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 UK government departments or public bodies
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Assessment methods
Written proposal
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. For the existing work outlined in 'work that's already been done', was this work carried out with a supplier? Will they be bidding for this opportunity?
Initial user experience research was commissioned in 2017/2018 by Cadence Innova with Fluent Interaction to test content and guidance on school resource management, including the original version of the efficiency metric. This was a discrete piece of work which was completed in February 2018. We will not know who is bidding for the current opportunity until the advert closes.
2. In your question asking for "Understanding of audiences, segmentation" - would you like to see a demonstrated understanding of the specific audiences mentioned in this brief, or rather an understanding of the segmentation of audiences in general?
We are principally interested in an understanding of audiences in the brief and the roles they play within schools. We would anticipate the research would bring out:
• impact school type, role, experience level has on user experience
• who’s involved with the processes covered by the guidance and tools (and how)
• how audiences engage with and use the guidance and tools

We are not expecting suppliers to provide an audience segmentation model as such.
3. Please could you give an outline of the DfE officials the supplier would work with and report to during this project - their job titles and roles? Please could you also outline the job titles/roles of those assessing the supplier responses?
The research project will be project managed by a digital communication and a policy adviser.

The 3 member evaluation team will comprise digital communications managers and policy advisers.
4. Some of these tools are quite new so what has triggered you to procure a large user research project now? Was any user research conducted throughout the development phases?
Although the school resource management self-assessment tool is a new offering, half of it has evolved from the School financial value standard and assurance form, which LA-maintained schools only have to complete and return to their authority. The SFVS form was included in the last round of user testing.

This research will test the new self-assessment tool which has been developed in consideration of these learnings from the last round before the roll out to maintained schools in early 2019.