The Department for Education is seeking a provider to deliver an online digital platform as an essential element of the Digital Languages Mentoring Project, which aims to encourage pupils in Year 9 to choose Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) at GCSE level.
The online platform will host activities for pupils and include a chat function, enabling pupils to chat with a mentor online while carrying out the activities. The requirement is to develop and build an online platform for a private beta phase of a trial project which will be run in at least 40 schools in England in 2020, from late January to the end of February or early March. The platform may also be used at public beta phase in 2020-21, reaching 6000 pupils, and therefore must be suitable for upscaling to a national roll-out.
The Digital Languages Mentoring Project (competed via a separate tender exercise) is to be targeted at Year 9 pupils in state maintained schools in England, with MFL undergraduate students from universities in England as mentors. The aim of the mentoring programme is to target 13 & 14 year olds who are unsure about whether to study languages at GCSE. These pupils will be of mixed abilities, mixed gender and mixed socio-economic backgrounds. The project’s ambition is to inspire them to choose to study languages at GCSE level. This will be a digital project (as well as involving face to face visits) – using the digital platform to host interesting and stimulating digital resources to spark pupils’ attention related to global culture and the value of languages.
The project is in the private beta phase of a pilot; the alpha phase was conducted in academic year 2018/19, and the private beta phase will provide more robust evidence with a greater sample size to test the impact of this approach to increasing languages uptake. The provider for the digital platform will work with the DfE and the beta service provider to ensure that the digital platform has the capacity to be used at scale in the public beta phase.
In addition to developing the digital platform the provider will liaise with digital experts within the Department and third parties who will review the digital platform to consider whether the project meets Government Digital Service Standards and Cyber Security specifications, in order to advise on future expansion of the project. The provider’s Agile team should also include a named user researcher to evaluate the digital platform during the development phase, including but not limited to an assessment of the accessibility of the platform including by pupils with assisted digital needs, with SEND and EAL requirements, and with low digital literacy.