Teacher training

DfE challenged over plan to award top trusts £121m Institute of Teaching

Decision could leave department facing another procurement row

Decision could leave department facing another procurement row

10 Mar 2022, 13:10

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Ministers have been challenged over plans to award the £121 million flagship Institute of Teaching contract to a coalition of four leading academy trusts.

The group – including the Harris Federation, Outwood Grange Academies Trust (OGAT), Star Academies and Oasis Community Learning – have been identified as the preferred bidder.

However a decision to award the contract to the trusts is awaiting final sign off from government officials.

The award is already a week later than originally scheduled.

Schools Week understands the unsuccessful bidders, a consortium spearheaded by the Ambition Institute and including trusts like Ark, have raised concerns with the Department for Education over the tender process.

The Ambition bid was believed to have scored a higher mark for the “quality” section of the tender, but lost out due to a technicality.

DfE faces another contract row

It leaves government potentially facing another row over the awarding of a flagship scheme.

Ministers are under pressure to cancel a contract awarded to international HR firm Randstad to run the National Tutoring Programme.

It won the contract after undercutting a bid led by the charities who ran the scheme in its inaugural year.

It is understood that like the Randstad contract award, the bid which achieved higher marks for quality has lost out due to a financial compliance issue.

After the IoT contract notice is officially issued, there will be a “standstill period” where unsuccessful bidders can appeal.

It is not known whether Ambition – which runs training courses for teachers, including as a lead provider for the early career framework – will appeal. The institute did not respond to requests for comment.

Schools Week revealed in January the four academy trusts had co-founded the School Led Development Trust (SLDT) company to bid for the contract.

An SLDT spokesperson said this week: “We have submitted a bid for the contract to lead the national Institute of Teaching. The DfE is yet to announce the outcome of the tender process.”

The IoT will be the country’s “flagship teacher and leader development provider” and must have at least four regional campuses. The government has said a pilot will begin in September, with 500 trainees from September 2023 and 1,000 the following year.

The winning organisation or consortium is due to receive £121 million to run the body over six years, though only £17 million is guaranteed to set up and run the body. The rest is dependent on recruitment and future spending reviews.

Trusts promised ‘ground-breaking initiative’

Sir Dan Moynihan, chief executive of Harris, told Schools Week in January that the organisation would be a “ground-breaking initiative to incubate and share best practice” across the country.

The IoT will deliver the early career framework (ECF) for new teachers and national professional qualifications (NPQs) for more experienced staff as part of the DfE’s wider overhaul of teacher training.

The IoT will also attempt to replicate the approach of schools which “combine high standards of pupil behaviour and discipline with a broad knowledge-based and ambitious curriculum”, according to the DfE.

The SLDT spokesperson said its proposal was the “next organic stage in the national evolution of a school-led system that recognises that the deepest knowledge and most effective practice is generated by colleagues in schools”.

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