DfE sets out on 18-month £10m digital services drive

Department awards contract to London tech consultancy

Credit: Antonio Chaves/CC BY-SA 4.0

The Education and Skills Funding Agency has embarked upon a £10m 18-month drive to improve its digital services and use of data.

ESFA, in collaboration with its parent organisation the Department for Education, has signed a contract with London software specialist Solirius Consulting, which has been tasked with supporting the development of services across two core “directorates”: data science; and funding.

In the former case, it is looking to construct systems to improve and automate the means of collecting information from four existing platforms: Submit Learner Data; Further Education Data Improvement; Forms Collections; and Further Education Workforce Collection.

“DfE plans to build holistic data collection services looking to exploit cloud service and /automated data collections to GDS Standards,” the department said. “This will link into schools’ collections, aligning data items collected for individuals across the DfE.”

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It added: “As the organisation moves forward there will be a strong need to support the existing services and any new ones falling out of the transformation programme. For example, there may well be a need for the business to actively support a new range of stakeholders and users in the delivery of T Levels.”

ESFA’s funding directorate – and its core Calculate Funding Service (CFS) – requires “an agile partner to help our service delivery team… complete their digital transformation”.

The DfE added: “The challenges will range from bringing new products to live as well as shaping mature systems to support transformation.”

“The CFS needs to be enhanced and developed to meet the evolving business and policy needs and interface with other ESFA systems to complete their digital transformation. This may require the spectrum of GDS agile roles. We are looking for a partner to transition knowledge, skills and experience to help build this.”

Solirius will support this work over the course of a contract that came into effect on 1 October, and concludes on 31 March 2022. The deal will be worth £9.5m to the London tech firm..

The engagement begins following a year in which the ESFA’s technology platforms have been put under strain by the challenges of coronavirus.

“Covid-19 has placed extra pressure on existing platforms and applications,” the DfE said. “There is a strong likelihood there will be a need to continue to support these initiatives.”


Sam Trendall

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