Mandarin Excellence Programme – Tender Information Session – 25 March 2021

Mandarin Excellence Programme – Tender Information Session – 25 March 2021

Our intention for the scope of the re-procured MEP would be to continue delivery of Mandarin fluency with a minimum recruitment and retention of 1,800 Year 7 pupils commencing and continuing study annually from September 2021 to August 2024.

Mandarin Excellence Programme

Department for Education

Contract summary



  • Education and training services – 80000000

Location of contract

United Kingdom

Value of contract


Procurement reference

ITT ref: itt_472

Published date

16 March 2021

Closing date

19 April 2021

Closing time


Contract start date

1 September 2021

Contract end date

31 August 2024

Contract type

Service contract

Procedure type

Open (non-OJEU)

Contract is suitable for SMEs?


Contract is suitable for VCSEs?





The purpose of this Notice is to notify the market of the opportunity to bid for the next Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP) due to commence in September 2021.

In 2015 the Department announced its intention to provide funding for at least 5,000 pupils to be taught Mandarin in schools in England. The Department is now looking to build upon the success of this initial pioneering programme.

Our intention for the scope of the re-procured MEP would be to continue delivery of Mandarin fluency with a minimum recruitment and retention of 1,800 Year 7 pupils commencing and continuing study annually from September 2021 to August 2024. It will also maintain up to 20 PGCE Mandarin teachers.

The Department is seeking a lead provider or consortia or similar entity to deliver the programme according to academic years, which will include, but is not limited to the following objectives:

– support the diverse geographical location of the schools (where necessary) to ensure the development of teaching and learning of Mandarin Chinese in schools across the country;

– ensure school-led development of the programme, translating centralised guidance and support into local practice;

– act as a grant administrator to manage and transfer up to £3.3million per year of grant funding to schools on the programme

– provide a framework for the sustainability of Mandarin Chinese in England beyond the life of the programme;

– ensure experienced MEP schools act as hub leaders to implement successfully the step-up of teaching required within the life of the programme, and to be able to lead confidently additional new schools in following years.

– build upon the successes of work delivered to date by the current contract holders.

Potential Providers are invited to attend a Microsoft Teams facilitated Tender Information Session at 11:00-12:30 GMT on Thursday 25 March.

The event will provide the opportunity to hear about the service requirement, the tender process and for you to submit questions. Attendance is limited to two people per organisation.

To register your attendance and receive dial-in details, please use the messaging facility in the eTendering Portal by Midday GMT on Wednesday 24 March. The link for this is: If you need assistance with this, please use the Contact Us facility on the home page.

Attendance at the webinar is not mandatory and for Potential Providers that are not able to attend, the slides and Q&A log will be circulated via the messaging facility on the eTendering Portal.


More information


Additional text
The contract period will be for up to 3 academic years (1st September 2021- 31st August 2024) subject to annual review and break clauses. From August 2024, there is an option to extend of up to 1 year, which will be exercised at the discretion of the Department and subject to contract performance and availability of funding.

Due to Government spending restrictions, the Department is required to seek funding approvals for proposed years 2 and 3 of the contract, as well as any potential extension year. Whilst this prevents us from having full approval for onward spend beyond 31st August 2022, it is our intention to seek this approval during year 1 of the contract. Before any subsequent year of continued delivery, the Department would aim to give the supplier at least 3 months’ notice.

The Contract is valued at a total of up to £16,400,000 (excluding VAT) over the full 4 – year term. This value is based on the maximum budget available and includes both payments to schools and the extension year, should this be exercised. This value includes up to £3,300,000 of payment to be allocated directly to schools as grant funding per year. The value for year 1 of the contract must not exceed £4,100,000 (excluding VAT) and must include grant funding to schools.

The Department reserves the right not to enter a formal procurement process and not proceed with contract award. Accordingly, the Department will not be liable for any bid cost, expenditure, work or effort incurred by any organisation in acting on the basis of this Notice.

Please be aware that the Department reserves the right to terminate, amend, or reduce the scope of, any agreement should funding be withdrawn, changed or there is a significant change in government policy relating to the delivery of the programme and outputs required as part of this contract, by giving at least 3 months’ notice. In addition, this procurement exercise, the service scope and the award of the contract is subject to any change in Ministerial priorities and DfE policy (in accordance with the Regulations).

Applications will be made using the Department’s E-Tendering procurement system using the link below: Please ensure that you have registered on here as a supplier.

Please note: Unregistered suppliers will need to follow the link above and click “view opportunities” to access a full list of current DfE Contract opportunities to access this opportunity.

For any support with registering and finding this opportunity, please use the ‘Contact Us’ details to contact the E-Tendering team.


How to apply


Follow the instructions given in the description or the more information section.


About the buyer



20 Great Smith St, Westminster, London