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Innovation fund opens to new applicants

A charitable fund designed to help providers develop new and innovative approaches to assessment has opened for applications.

The Assessment Innovation Fund, created by the educational charity and leader in vocational and technical education NCFE, is committed to investing in a range of pilots both in the UK and overseas.

Offering up to £25,000 for any organisation with an idea and interest in changing the future of assessment, it includes, but isn’t limited to, training providers, qualification developers, awarding bodies, quality assurers, EdTech companies and colleges. 

Jessica Blakey, Head of Assessment Innovation at NCFE, said:

“When we launched the Assessment Innovation Fund last year our vision was, and still is, to break the boundaries of assessment within our current education system.  

“Our aim is to support and investigate potential solutions and deliver the best possible experience for our learners. We currently have five live research projects that focus on testing new concepts in a safe space, from using AI and digital badges, to engaging hard to reach learners. 

“But the work certainly doesn’t stop there. Whether you’re a small training provider with an inkling of an idea, or a world leading institution that wants to take a project to the next level, we’d love to hear from you.” 

One current pilot by The Sheffield College is testing the effects of how virtual reality (VR) can be used effectively in assessment. The college was awarded the money to support its research, which will focus on catering, animal care and construction initially.  

The aim is to build experiences that enable learners to go into a fully immersive VR setting and practise their skills. This will give them more practice time when the physical spaces for work experience are limited and increase learners’ opportunities to work with teachers and get constructive feedback. 

To support new applicants to the Assessment Innovation Fund, NCFE are hosting two online workshops in September that will help explain the process further and also offer the chance to ask questions, including around suitable ideas, scoring, and how the final decision will be made.  

The current funding window is open to expressions of interest until 3 October. To find out more about the Assessment Innovation Fund, submit your interest, or register for an online workshop, visit

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