Government pursues £15m digital project to ‘transform how people become teachers’
Department for Education looks to improve online tools to help apply for teaching profession and receive greater support throughout classroom career
The Department for Education is pursuing a £15m digital and data transformation project to overhaul the process through which people can become teachers, and the support they then receive over the course of their career.
The department believes that “many people have a desire to become a teacher, but not enough have the chance to try it out – with many put off by the long and complicated application process”. This issue is compounded by the fact that new recruits to the profession “don’t always get the support needed to build successful careers, and too many end up leaving”.
In newly published commercial notices, the DfE sets out its intent to create a range of digital services and underpinning IT and data systems to support its ambition of “transforming the way people become teachers and the support they receive at each step of their career”.
This will include new online tools that encourage potential educators to consider a career in teaching and help them access opportunities to gain experience in schools, colleges, and universities. The department also wants to improve digital platforms for applying for postgraduate teacher-training courses, as well as tools for registering trainees and connecting them with financial support.
Freshly qualified teachers, meanwhile, will be provided with better digital services for finding jobs – including claiming additional financial incentives for the hard-to-fill subjects or roles, the DfE hopes. New starters will then benefit from greater online help with “early career development with extra professional support” in in the initial stages of their working life.
As their teaching career progress, the department wishes to use digital systems to improve access to ongoing training and further qualifications, as well as support with managing pensions and administrative information, such as teacher reference numbers.
“With these services in house, we expect to be able to transform how we use performance data to improve services, policies and gather policy insights,” the DfE said, in contract notices seeking suppliers to support the transformation project.
The department is seeking to put in place new agreements with two suppliers – each of which will be signed to an initial two-year deal, plus a potential six-month extension.
The first of these will cover the provision of staff to perform the duties of roles from two of six the ‘job families’ – namely product delivery and data – that comprise government’s digital, data and technology profession.
Product-delivery roles include management and oversight positions such as service owners, delivery managers, and business analysts. The data job family, meanwhile, covers the likes of data scientists, ethicists, and engineers.
The user-centred design segment of the DDaT profession includes a range of design specialisms – such as interactions, graphics, and content – as well as user researchers, accessibility specialists, and technical writers.
The DfE intends to sign two contracts of an initial two-year term, plus an additional six-month extension. The engagements, which are scheduled to come into effect in March, will allow the DfE to issue various statements of work seeking the support required to deliver objectives and outcomes.
In each case, the chosen firm – or consortium of providers – will provide expert staff over to work in multidisciplinary teams of about 10 people and including “DfE staff and other suppliers from a range of disciplines including architecture, security, policy, user experience, service design, software development, finance and commercial”.
Bids for the user-centred design contract – which comes with a budget of up to £7.1m – are open until midnight on 22 December.
This deal will seemingly sit alongside a near-identical arrangement put in place earlier this year with digital consultancy Engine – which, in April, signed a two-year contract with the DfE valued at £5m.
The products delivery and data deal, for which bidding closes on 21 December, will be worth up to £4.6m to the chosen supplier.
Combined potential spending through the two impending contracts plus the existing engagement with Engine is £15.7m.
“The portfolio supports the department’s Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, published in January 2019,” the contract notices added. “This sets out the government's priorities for making sure a career in teaching continues to be attractive, sustainable, and rewarding. The government’s vision is for all our young people to have access to a world-class education – no matter where they are from or their background. The key to accessing a world-class education is the teacher in the classroom.”
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