Awarded to Hippo Digital Limited

Start date: Monday 21 January 2019
Value: £287,100
Company size: SME
Standards and Testing Agency (STA), Department for Education

Assessment Service (alpha)

9 Incomplete applications

7 SME, 2 large

12 Completed applications

10 SME, 2 large

Important dates

Wednesday 5 December 2018
Deadline for asking questions
Wednesday 12 December 2018 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Wednesday 19 December 2018 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
Alpha phase - create proof of concept for a platform that can deliver multiple assessments.
Latest start date
Monday 21 January 2019
Expected contract length
12 weeks
West Midlands
Organisation the work is for
Standards and Testing Agency (STA), Department for Education
Budget range

About the work

Why the work is being done
The ultimate aim of the assessment service is to provide one place for internal/external users to develop, deliver, administer, conduct and report on national assessments. Internal users include STA staff. External users include school admin, teachers and pupils. Due to the risk and complexity, this vision is expected to take at least 10 years to achieve.
The service will be developed on a flexible robust platform to accommodate the user needs of multiple digital assessments. Over time it will reduce burden on schools and STA. Initial development will focus on a platform for the reception baseline and multiplication tables assessments.
Problem to be solved
STA’s long term goal is to develop a digitally enabled assessment platform on which all digital assessments can be developed.
Who the users are and what they need to do
STA need a service which can be used to collate and cleanse registered pupil data, receive reliable assessment data from schools; input assessment content; verify registrations; mark-assessments; download data; return results.
Schools need a service that is reliable, simple to use and reduces burden; ability to register pupils; timely and securely administer assessments; send data to STA including headteacher declaration at the end of each assessment cycle; option to record and receive results data.
Pupils need a service which hosts an engaging, accessible, reliable assessment, where the digital element doesn’t affect the ability to be assessed.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
Discovery recommendations:
Technical feasibility - prove a platform approach would work for multiple assessments
Investigate which technology capabilities are suited to build re-use or to buy
User research to explore and validate service design of multiple assessment user journey (Multiplication Tables Check & Reception Baseline Assessment)
Create proof of concepts (POC)/development spikes to de-risk the technical challenges of building a platform (micro-service architecture, event-driven architecture, reusability, service integration)
Existing team
You will be working with a small STA team and in parallel with another supplier (working on a dependent product) consisting of Delivery Manager, Senior Technical Architect / Lead developer, Senior Content Designer, Senior Business Analyst, Service / Experience Design / User Interaction, Lead Business Analyst and Senior Research Specialist.
Current phase

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Coventry, West Midlands
Working arrangements
Co-located with the team in Coventry to maximise opportunity for engagement with DfE users and stakeholders. Travel to other DfE sites and schools to meet users is expected but must be in line with the DfE travel & subsistence policy. Expenses must be included in the contract sum, there will be no separate budget for expenses. We will operate using agile methodology including daily stand ups, sprint planning, sprints, retrospectives and show and tells. Face to face attendance at all Show and Tells is expected. There is some flexibility for remote arrangements
Security clearance
The team will need BPSS as a minimum.

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
  • Have experience in delivering similar solutions in cloud -based environments and understand the security and management of cloud components.
  • Proven experience delivering projects using the agile project management methodology
  • Proven track record of delivering projects at speed with clearly identified deliverables and timescales.
  • Demonstrable evidence of excellent planning, coordination, communication and project management skills.
  • Demonstrable evidence of incorporating latest technologies to enhance product specifications, resulting in increased functionality and improved user experience.
  • Demonstrable evidence of a robust risk management process, including risk identification, mitigations and governance.
  • Demonstrate understanding and ability to deliver digital services/products to the Government Digital Service standards.
  • Have experience of delivering high quality content and information architecture design for complex user journeys across multiple touchpoints, that meets user needs.
  • Demonstrate experience of designing digital assessment services.
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 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 a proof of concept 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.
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 within a DfE working environment; including expertise of 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
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




Questions asked by suppliers

1. Can you confirm if the architecture is already defined or can suppliers propose their own?
We need the best value solution that meets the needs of STA and their users. To this end we expect any supplier to look closely at similar services across STA and government to see if it is appropriate to expand this or set up new architecture
2. Is there a preferred cloud provider? If so, who?
Any supplier will be expected to ensure that the service runs on the Departments Azure instance; however any final solution will be as supplier agonistic as possible to ensure ease of switching hosting provider in the future if required
3. Please can you provide a link to the detailed Discovery outcomes report so that we can better understand the requirements for Alpha?
The Discovery report is being finalised and is not currently available – but will be shared when available.
4. Please advise on the preferred skills make up of the team being procured.
The composition of the team proposed is down to the tenderer who will be required to deliver the outcomes as defined in the specification document
5. Was the Discovery conducted internally or using an outside supplier? Can you provide the name of the supplier?
The Discovery was completed externally by Hippo Digital
6. Can you share a copy of the Discovery report?
The Discovery report is being finalised and is not currently available – but will be shared when available..
7. Who delivered Discovery?
Hippo Digital
8. Do you see a requirement in this outcome work for additional user research and UX Design work which we would be providing as part of the team?
We will be using STA internal user researchers but will require UX design work.
9. Could you confirm if the existing team mentioned is provided by the STA or the other supplier mentioned?
The existing team mentioned is a mix of STA staff and Hippo Digital staff.
10. Could you confirm if the existing team mentioned is provided by the STA or the other supplier mentioned?
The outputs are: Recommendations for a platform beta; Analysis of build, marketplace (COTS) and open source options; A working technical prototype POC; Prove that core components can be delivered successfully within MS Azure.
11. Could STA clarify how potential suppliers should quote a price for this project please, as the online questionnaire doesn't appear to include any mechanism for pricing / resource specifications to be included as part of the response. Further to this, could STA say more about the process & timeline for the supplier shortlisting process please? The notice suggests that you will shortlist up to 3 suppliers following submission of the online questionnaire, but doesn't appear to give any detail about the next stage in the process prior to project commencment by 21 January 2019.
Only shortlisted suppliers are required to provide price/resource at the next stage. The next stage would be supplier presentation in London 10/01/19, shortlisted suppliers will be notified by 24/12/18.