Department for Education Test Operations Services

Department for Education Test Operations Services

The services to be provided under the TOpS contract include (but are not limited to):
1. General: Overarching management of test operations; Systems Integration; Security of test materials;
Provision of data.

United Kingdom-Coventry: Education and training services

2015/S 204-370727

Contract notice


Directive 2004/18/EC

Section I: Contracting authority

I.1)Name, addresses and contact point(s)

Department for Education, Standards and Testing Agency (STA)
Earlsdon Park, 53-55 Butts Road
CV1 3BH Coventry

Internet address(es):

General address of the contracting authority:

Electronic access to information:http://

Electronic submission of tenders and requests to participate:http://

Further information can be obtained from: The above mentioned contact point(s)

Specifications and additional documents (including documents for competitive dialogue and a dynamic purchasing system) can be obtained from: The above mentioned contact point(s)

Tenders or requests to participate must be sent to: The above mentioned contact point(s)

I.2)Type of the contracting authority

Ministry or any other national or federal authority, including their regional or local sub-divisions

I.3)Main activity

I.4)Contract award on behalf of other contracting authorities

Section II: Object of the contract


II.1.1)Title attributed to the contract by the contracting authority:

Test Operations Services (TOpS).

II.1.2)Type of contract and location of works, place of delivery or of performance

Service category No 24: Education and vocational education services

NUTS code UKG33

II.1.3)Information about a public contract, a framework agreement or a dynamic purchasing system (DPS)

The notice involves a public contract
II.1.4)Information on framework agreement

II.1.5)Short description of the contract or purchase(s)

The STA was set-up as an executive agency of the Department for Education (DfE) in October 2011. The purpose of the STA is to develop and administer National Curriculum Assessments (NCAs) and assessments in England as part of the government’s agenda to raise educational standards through structural change, school improvement strategies, and a rigorous accountability framework where tests in the core subjects, currently at the end of Year 6 form an important measure of children’s long-term education and life chances. The outcomes of the NCAs are published annually at an individual school level in the School Performance Tables by government and are an important factor in parental choice of schools.
The current NCAs are Key Stage 1 (‘KS1’) and Key Stage 2 (‘KS2’) tests in the core subjects of English and Mathematics, and the KS1 Phonics Screening Check (‘PSC’). The tests are sat by the full cohort of pupils, currently 580,593 in 15,500 state schools in England.
The successful economic operator will be required to undertake activities required for the successful delivery of all NCAs. This will include: printing; the logistics associated with securely delivering test papers and other materials to participating schools; collecting and distributing tests scripts to markers; the successful completion of on-screen marking of the NCAs within a defined time frame; and to deliver all support required by participating schools for their successful administration of the NCAs.
The services to be provided under the TOpS contract include (but are not limited to):
1. General:
— Overarching management of test operations;
— Systems Integration;
— Security of test materials;
— Provision of data;
— Project and Risk management;
— Collection of KS2 pupil test information;
— Collection of KS2 Teacher Assessment data;
— Development and dissemination of guidance, communications and support to schools, markers and other stakeholders throughout the test cycle.
2. Print:
— Manufacture KS1, KS2 and PSC test materials to schools;
— Manufacture KS2 marker materials to KS2 markers;
— Indicative production quantities;
— KS1 Total estimated pages printed per annum = 64 565 289;
— KS2 Total estimated pages printed per annum = 89 369 520;
— PSC Total estimated pages printed per annum = 1 176 300;
3. Logistics:
— Collate and distribute KS1, KS2 and PSC test materials to schools;
— Indicative delivery quantities;
— KS1 30 000 packages per annum;
— KS2 40 000 packages per annum;
— PSC 20 000 packages per annum;
— Distribute KS2 marker materials to KS2 markers;
— KS2 post-test logistics (collect test scripts from schools, capture electronically and distribute to markers: test scripts/images returned to schools);
— KS2 scanning and matching services.
4. Marking and Assessment:
— KS2 marker recruitment and management;
— KS2 marker training (develop materials and deliver training);
— KS2 on screen marking provision;
— KS2 script marking management and mark capture;
— Support KS2 test standard setting;
— Support maladministration processes;
— As an indicative figure 4 million scripts are marked per test cycle.
5. Helpdesk:
— Helpdesk for markers, schools and other stakeholders;
— Approximately 76 000 calls and 9 000 emails are received annually;
— Activity peaks between May to July each Test Cycle.
The full scope of services to be delivered under the TOpS Contract is contained in Document 4 (Statement of Requirements and Glossary) which forms part of the suite of tender documents for this procurement process.
It is anticipated that the TOpS contract will be awarded by September 2016. Set-up in preparation for the commencement of the services will take place for a year from the commencement date of theTOpS contract until 31.8.2017 and the TOpS Contract will go live in September 2017 initially for 5 consecutive test cycles that will be administered in schools commencing with the 2018 Test Cycle. The TOpS contract will include an option to extend the term at STA’s sole discretion by up to 2 further test cycle periods.

II.1.6)Common procurement vocabulary (CPV)

80000000, 72253100, 80100000, 48190000, 48311100, 48810000, 72212190, 60100000, 60161000, 64121100, 64121200, 64120000, 64100000,75121000, 79810000, 79823000, 79920000, 79996100

II.1.7)Information about Government Procurement Agreement (GPA)

The contract is covered by the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA): yes


This contract is divided into lots: no

II.1.9)Information about variants

Variants will be accepted: no
II.2)Quantity or scope of the contract

II.2.1)Total quantity or scope:

Estimated value excluding VAT:
Range: between 95 000 000 and 166 000 000 GBP

II.2.2)Information about options

Options: no

II.2.3)Information about renewals

This contract is subject to renewal: no
II.3)Duration of the contract or time limit for completion

Section III: Legal, economic, financial and technical information

III.1)Conditions relating to the contract

III.1.1)Deposits and guarantees required:

If financial information provided by an economic operator gives STA cause for concern about the economic operator’s financial capability a parent company or bank guarantee or performance bond may be sought.

III.1.2)Main financing conditions and payment arrangements and/or reference to the relevant provisions governing them:

This shall be as stated in the TOpS contract.

III.1.3)Legal form to be taken by the group of economic operators to whom the contract is to be awarded:

Where STA (acting reasonably) deems this to be necessary for the satisfactory performance of the TOpS contract, any proposed consortium may be required to form a corporate legal entity should it be awarded the TOpS contract and for the purpose of delivering the same.
1. The successful economic operator will act as a prime contractor with full contractual responsibility to ensure effective, efficient and economic delivery of the TOpS contract and will be accountable to STA. Consideration will be given to groups of economic operators where they can demonstrate their ability to provide the service and meet the evaluation criteria. SME’s are actively encouraged to be involved and be part of the process.
2. For STA to award the TOpS contract to an economic operator, it will be essential for the economic operator to meet the requirements of the Cyber Essentials Scheme (Cyber Essentials). In consultation with industry, the Government has developed Cyber Essentials and this scheme defines a set of controls which, when properly implemented, provides organisations with basic protection from the most prevalent forms of threat that come from the internet.
The details of the Cyber Essentials Scheme can be found at:

The easiest way for economic operators to demonstrate that the Cyber Essentials requirements are met is to gain the Cyber Essentials certificate.
The need to meet the requirements of the Cyber Essentials will extend to sub-contractors of the economic operator where such sub-contractors are involved on behalf of the economic operator, in the handling of personal information and the provision of ICT systems and services which are designed to store or process data at the ‘Official’ level of the Government Protective Marking Scheme.
The economic operator and any sub-contractors will be required to maintain their ability to meet the requirements of ‘Cyber Essentials Plus’ throughout the life of the TOpS contract.
Economic operators who conform to the ISO27001 standard where Cyber Essentials requirements, at Plus levels have been verified will be regarded as holding an equivalent standard to Cyber Essentials Plus provided that the certification body carrying out this verification is approved to issue a Cyber Essentials certificate by 1 of the accreditation bodies.
3. STA will publish the suite of tender documents and manage the procurement process and all communications with economic operators through the Department for Education’s online electronic procurement portal, REDIMO2 and you are recommended to register as a supplier on REDIMO2 with immediate effect.

Please pay particular attention to the guidance document at the following link which will guide you through your registration and application for OA membership (if appropriate):

If you have any issues or problems in registering on REDIMO2, please contact or Proactis directly via the ‘help’ facility.

4. The following documents held by the STA are not essential for economic operators to use in the preparation of their responses under this procurement process but they contain background information about the services being procured which may be of interest to economic operators. These documents are National Curriculum Assessment Tools technical specification and Return of script images specification. Due to the nature of these documents and the fact that if accessed indiscriminately they could compromise the STA’s internal security, economic operators must sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement in the form set out in Appendix 5 (Form of Non-Disclosure Agreement) to Document 1 (General Information and Instructions to Candidates) of the suite of tender documents. Economic operators who wish to have access to these documents should contact the STA through REDIMO2 in order to obtain the Non-Disclosure Agreement for signature.
Economic operators shall ensure that each member of their bidding entity who receives any of the information contained in these documents is made aware of, and complies with, the provisions set out in the Non-Disclosure Agreement by entering into an agreement to be bound by the provisions thereof. The STA suggests it will be in the interests of Candidates to get their intended sub-contractors to each sign their own Non-disclosure Agreement because the procurement process will allow sub-contractors to be involved in more than 1 bid.

III.1.4)Other particular conditions
III.2)Conditions for participation
III.2.1)Personal situation of economic operators, including requirements relating to enrolment on professional or trade registers
III.2.2)Economic and financial ability

III.2.3)Technical capacity

Information and formalities necessary for evaluating if the requirements are met:
(1) The economic operator must provide information about 3 contracts under which their organisation has delivered the relevant services in the past 3 years (an explanation of what would constitute relevant services is contained in the Pre Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) as set out in Document 2 of the suite of tender documents.
(2) The economic operator must also provide:
(a) Certificates in the form at Annex 2 (Form Of Certificate of Performance) of the PQQ from those to whom the relevant services on the list were provided (customers); or
(b) if any such certificate cannot be obtained, a certificate in the same form from the entity that provided the relevant services; together with an explanation of the steps taken to obtain a Certificate from the customer and the reason why a Certificate from the customer is not available.
If any Certificate does not state that the relevant services have been provided satisfactorily in accordance with the terms of the contract in question, information to show that the reason why the contract was not performed satisfactorily will not recur in the performance of the TOpS contract.
Where the economic operator proposes to rely on other entities (including sub-contractors or consortium members) to perform the TOpS contract, the economic operator must describe the function that each such other entity will perform under the TOpS contract and provide the information required in relation to each entity.
Minimum level(s) of standards possibly required:
Any economic operator must meet the selection criterion in the PQQ in relation to reliability based on performance of past contracts being the ‘minimum standards’. This is namely that STA is satisfied that:
— the contracts on the list provided by the economic operator have been satisfactorily performed in accordance with their terms; or
— where that has not occurred, the reason or reasons why that has not occurred in relation to any such contract, will not recur in the performance of the TOPS contract.
Where the economic operator proposes to rely on other entities (including sub-contractors or consortium members) to perform the TOpS Contract, then the selection criterion for reliability must be met by each such entity, save as regards contracts or sub-contracts with a value of less than 5 % of the total contract value and any sub-contractors not yet appointed.
STA will assess whether or not this criterion is satisfied at the PQQ stage and will re-assess it is satisfied prior to any further down-selection of economic operators, the grant of ‘preferred Bidder’ status and contract award.
III.2.4)Information about reserved contracts
III.3)Conditions specific to services contracts

III.3.1)Information about a particular profession

Execution of the service is reserved to a particular profession: no

III.3.2)Staff responsible for the execution of the service

Legal persons should indicate the names and professional qualifications of the staff responsible for the execution of the service: no

Section IV: Procedure

IV.1)Type of procedure

IV.1.1)Type of procedure

competitive dialogue

IV.1.2)Limitations on the number of operators who will be invited to tender or to participate

Envisaged minimum number 3
Objective criteria for choosing the limited number of candidates: The PQQ contains details of the selection criteria that STA will use to select those economic operators that it wishes to invite to participate in the Competitive Dialogue process.

IV.1.3)Reduction of the number of operators during the negotiation or dialogue

Recourse to staged procedure to gradually reduce the number of solutions to be discussed or tenders to be negotiated yes
IV.2)Award criteria

IV.2.1)Award criteria

The most economically advantageous tender in terms of the criteria stated in the specifications, in the invitation to tender or to negotiate or in the descriptive document
IV.2.2)Information about electronic auction
IV.3)Administrative information
IV.3.1)File reference number attributed by the contracting authority:
IV.3.2)Previous publication(s) concerning the same contract
IV.3.3)Conditions for obtaining specifications and additional documents or descriptive document

IV.3.4)Time limit for receipt of tenders or requests to participate

4.12.2015 – 12:00

IV.3.5)Date of dispatch of invitations to tender or to participate to selected candidates


IV.3.6)Language(s) in which tenders or requests to participate may be drawn up

IV.3.7)Minimum time frame during which the tenderer must maintain the tender
IV.3.8)Conditions for opening of tenders

Section VI: Complementary information

VI.1)Information about recurrence
VI.2)Information about European Union funds

VI.3)Additional information

The contract value is estimated to be in the region of 95 000 000 GBP for the duration of 1 year Set-Up and 5 test cycles (a test cycle lasting for a period of 17 months beginning on the 1st day of September each year) and (at STA’s sole discretion) with an option to extend by up to two further test cycles, the value of which is estimated at an additional 18 000 000 GBP per test cycle.
Developments in Government policy affecting National Curriculum tests and assessments are anticipated as a matter of course in the duration of the Agreement that this procurement process may result in. Such policy developments may affect existing and future National Curriculum Tests and assessments and as a result the service requirements for the TOpS contract may be amended and/or be increased. For example, although there are no current plans to move to online assessment tests, STA nevertheless reserves the right to trial or implement any such changes within the scope of the TOpS contract. Where such policy developments are required to be implemented and, subject to UK Government spending controls, it is anticipated the effect on the value of the TOpS contract as a result of any amendments and/or increases would be no more than 25 000 000 GBP for its initial term and, up to an additional 5 000 000 GBP for each additional test cycle period, up to a maximum of 2 test cycles.
STA requires a robust end-to-end service which will enable the consolidation of all dependent deliverables into a single contract, therefore improving the accountability structures and lowering the overall delivery risk. While the services to be provided under the TOpS contract are such that they could be divided into lots, it would be difficult for STA to administer the contract efficiently this way and would increase delivery risks on areas of numerous dependencies between services delivered by multiple suppliers. Time is also of the essence for the coordination and delivery of each component part and each of the parts are closely intertwined which would mean that where there is a lapse in the delivery of one component part the delivery of the particular test cycle could collapse. Given that these services are of great national significance and sensitivity, STA is not willing to risk such collapse. It is considered necessary therefore that a single service provider including one who contracts some or all the elements of the Service should have responsibility, oversight and control of all the component parts of the services.
Duration of the contract:
Set-Up to commence in September 2016 and be completed by 31.8.2017 (a period of 1 year) followed by 5 consecutive test cycles commencing September 2017 with option to extend at STA’s sole discretion by up to 2 further test cycle periods.
Type of procedure:
Competitive Dialogue with a proposed limit to the duration of the dialogue to minimise costs and time for both STA and the economic operators involved. It is anticipated that this will comprise an initial 1 day of dialogue during the preparation of the Detailed Proposal, followed by 2 days of dialogue after the submission of the Detailed Proposal, and if required by either party up to another 2 days within a month of the of the second dialogue activity. This may however change during the course of the procurement process.
No more than 3 economic operators will be shortlisted following the PQQ selection stage. Further details are provided in Document 2 (Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) and Guidance Notes) of the suite of tender documents for this procurement process.
The award criteria together with the STA’s Statement of Requirements (which can be found on REDIMO2 in Document 7 (Detailed Proposal Review and Award Criteria) and Document 4 (Statement of Requirements and Glossary)) respectively of the suite of tender documents for this procurement process contain information about the award criteria that will be applied by STA to evaluate bids at both Detailed Proposal and Best And Final Offer stage. The TOpS contract will be awarded to the economic operator that submits the most economically advantageous tender.
Detailed Proposals and Best and Final Offers submitted by economic operators for this procurement process shall be submitted electronically to the STA through REDIMO2.
PQQ responses must be returned to STA electronically via REDIMO2 by 4.12.2015 at 12:00 noon. Where economic operators opt to submit an Outline Solution, a compact disc version of this Outline Solution should be submitted to the STA by 4.12.2015 at 17:00 to the address provided in Document 2 of the suite of tender documents (Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) and Guidance Notes).
Information Best and Final Offers submitted by economic operators shall remain open until the 31.8.2017.
VI.4)Procedures for appeal

VI.4.1)Body responsible for appeal procedures

to the address in 1 in the first instance

VI.4.2)Lodging of appeals
VI.4.3)Service from which information about the lodging of appeals may be obtained

VI.5)Date of dispatch of this notice: