A pilot programme to improve professional development for the FE workforce through FE provider collaboration.


  1. Read the guidance in full on this webpage.

  2. Complete the FEPDG pilot application form (MS Word Document, 146KB).

  3. Return it by email to [email protected] using the subject line ‘FEPDG application’ by 11.59pm on 16 July 2021.


The further education professional development grants pilot (FEPDG) are a national pilot of competitive grant funding for all provider types delivering further education that meet the eligibility criteria.

In the skills for jobs white paper, government made a commitment to support the sector to strengthen the professional development and progression of the FE workforce. The FEPDG pilot will help deliver that commitment by funding collaborative sector-led initiatives to improve FE professional development and support for staff within priority areas of need.

Aims of the programme

The FEPDG pilot aims to:

  • support education recovery within the sector
  • fulfil the skills for jobs white paper commitment to strengthen the professional development of the FE workforce
  • drive improvements in FE professional development provision and support in 3 priority areas of need:
    • workforce capability and confidence to use technology effectively in education
    • subject-specific professional development
    • support for new and inexperienced teachers
  • stimulate improvements in workforce development and the standard of teaching in the sector by increasing opportunities for FE and providers and staff to collaborate and share effective practice
  • produce resources and approaches to workforce development that can be adopted by other FE providers
  • stimulate FE providers and the market to provide high-quality professional development and training for staff working in the sector


Applications must be submitted to [email protected] no later than 16 July 2021.

The FEPDG pilot will run for the financial year 2021 to 2022 and there is one application round.

All grant-funded activities must be completed by 31 March 2022.

We will notify providers of the outcome of their application after 1 September 2021. Successful providers will receive an initial grant payment to the value of 60% of the total grant value on or around 18 October 2021 (subject to signing and returning the grant funding offer letter by the required date).

A second and final payment for the remaining grant value (subject to any agreed adjustment following a midpoint review) will be paid on or around 17 January 2021.

Ahead of receiving the funding, providers may choose to begin delivery of FEPDG grant funded activity from the date that they are notified they have been awarded a grant or have signed the appropriate grant award letter (or both).


Institution type

Public and private sector FE providers (excluding the exemptions listed below) with a direct relationship with the ESFA and in receipt of at least one of the following funding streams or programmes that have funding attached:

  • 16 to 19 study programme
  • adult education budget
  • advanced learner loan facility
  • European Social Fund
  • 16 to 18 traineeships


You cannot apply if you are a school, academy, apprenticeship-only or employer provider.

Providers only in receipt of budgets associated with the functions transferred from the Secretary of State for Education to combined authorities by way of orders under the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 are not eligible to apply for the fund.

Sixth form colleges that are currently in the process of, or planning conversion to, an academy in 2021 to 2022 academic year are also excluded and are not eligible to apply for the fund.

Number of providers

Each application will need an eligible lead applicant provider and a minimum of one other partner provider.

There is no limit to the number of partners. However, we will apply additional stringent testing for capacity during the assessment process.

You cannot apply as an individual provider if you operate as part of a provider group structure (for example, an application must be in the name of a college group and not an individual college).

The Department for Education (DfE) welcomes bids from a mix of different eligible provider types, although this is not essential.

Lead provider requirements

To lead a bid, you must also meet the following requirements:

  • you must have either Ofsted grade 1 (outstanding) or grade 2 (good) for overall effectiveness – more information regarding grades data is available
  • you must have an ESFA financial health grade of good or outstanding – English universities financially monitored by the Office for Students and local authorities are exempt from this requirement
  • you must be in receipt of a minimum of £2.5m aggregate funding across the eligible funding streams in the 2021 to 2022 funding year

Partner providers

At least one partner provider must have Ofsted 3 or 4 (requires improvement or inadequate) at its most recent inspection or, for new providers, must have an insufficient progress outcome at their latest new provider monitoring visit.

All providers

All providers in an application must not have received a notice of termination from the ESFA at any point during the application and assessment process.

Other government-funded workforce development programmes

We will not approve bids that duplicate existing government-funded support and training that is already available through, for example, the Education and Training Foundation, the EdTech Demonstrator programme or the College Collaboration Fund. We do however welcome bids that build on existing support and training, possibly through the scaling up, or widening sector coverage, of previous successful activity.

Providers that have been successful in other government bidding applications, for example the CCF, are not prohibited from applying. However, evidence of sufficient capability and capacity must be demonstrated and will be robustly tested throughout the assessment process.

Priority workforce development themes

Your bid must address just one of the priority workforce development themes identified by DfE. The activity detailed in your proposal must be drawn from the activity areas stipulated (but may draw from more than one activity area in each theme).

Providers may submit multiple bids, one bid per priority theme, up to a total of 3 bids. If you submit multiple applications, you must indicate the priority order in which you would like these to be taken into account when making decisions about applications.

Lead providers will also be subject to an assessment of their capability and capacity to deliver multiple projects.

The priority workforce development themes are listed in the next section along with the activity areas you must choose from. To help applicants, for each activity area, we have provided examples of previous initiatives or relevant research. The list of examples is not exhaustive and we encourage applicants to consider other relevant sources of effective practice when designing their proposal. Where examples or research relate to schools, we would expect applications to demonstrate how proposed activity will be adapted so that it is relevant for the further education sector. You must also demonstrate how your proposed activity is in line with the principles of high-quality professional development as laid out in the national standard for teachers’ professional development.

We are particularly interested in proposals that utilise digital forms of delivery, which will allow greater reach once disseminated more widely.

Programme themes and activities

Priority theme 1: workforce capability and confidence to use technology effectively in education

Priority theme objective: training and support for staff to strengthen skills and confidence to use technology effectively in educational delivery.

Activity area: collaborative peer-to-peer support

Examples of previous interventions or supporting evidence base include providing ongoing support through access to trained blended learning champions (The LTE Group College Collaboration Fund (CCG) Project).

Activity area: evidence-based training or continuing professional development (CPD) to improve practice

Examples of previous interventions or supporting evidence base include:

Activity area: development of online and blended pedagogy

Examples of previous interventions or supporting evidence base include:

Priority theme 2: subject specific professional development

Priority theme objective: support for staff to improve subject and pedagogic content knowledge to improve the quality of curriculum design and teaching, learning and assessment.

Activity area: evidence-based approaches to improve subject knowledge and pedagogy

Examples of previous interventions or supporting evidence base include:

Activity area: application or adaption of generic pedagogic practices to specific subject areas

Examples of previous interventions or supporting evidence base include:

  • support for staff to understand how general pedagogic issues and approaches apply to their specific learning contexts (evidence base underpinning national standard for teachers’ professional development, see this implementation guidance and the research highlighted in the bibliography at the end of the document)
  • creation of guidance and resources to exemplify excellent teaching, learning and assessment approaches in a subject area (evidence base underpinning national standard for teacher’s professional development)

Activity area: collaborative peer-to-peer support and subject networks

Examples of previous interventions or supporting evidence base include subject networks to research, identify and disseminate effective teaching, learning and assessment approaches (T Level Professional Development networks).

Priority theme 3: supporting new or inexperienced teachers

Priority theme objective: tailored support and professional development for new or inexperienced teachers to aid career progression and improve teacher retention.

Activity area: structured support packages for new or inexperienced teachers

Examples of previous interventions or supporting evidence base include:

Activity area: induction programmes to support development of key aspects of pedagogy and practice

Examples of previous interventions or supporting evidence base include core induction programmes covering key areas of practice essential for the development of new or inexperienced FE teachers (schools early career framework induction packages)

Activity area: support for trainee teachers whose teacher training has been disrupted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Examples of previous interventions or supporting evidence base include support for newly qualified teachers to broaden their experience of face-to-face teaching plus strengthen skills and confidence to undertake classroom and in-person delivery

There are well-established means of supporting newly qualified teachers which we will expect applications to build on but we will be testing approaches in a new context of responding to disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

To help assess your application and monitor outputs from funded projects, we have provided a set of common KPIs which are listed below. Common KPIs are divided into 4 categories:

  • common mandatory KPIs that must be included in all applications
  • required KPIs which should be included where relevant to the priority workforce development theme the proposal is addressing
  • recommended survey KPIs include KPIs bespoke to the programme of work you have detailed in your proposal

DfE will centrally collect mandatory and required KPIs, whereas lead providers will collect survey KPIs and report them to DfE. All KPIs will form part of the conditions of funding and grant funding agreement for successful proposals, and will be regularly monitored by DfE.

You will be required to complete and submit a monthly proforma detailing progress of activities against the mandatory, required and bespoke KPIs. These KPIs will form part of your grant award letter. Lead providers will collect and report recommended survey KPIs to the DfE at the beginning of the programme and on completion of programme activities to provide baseline data and indicative measures of impact.

Where a KPI is measured at provider-level, please ensure that you reference the lead provider and all partner providers for the KPI, including the current status (for example, a baseline) and targets (where appropriate). The KPI collection process requires you to submit provider-level KPI data for all participant partners.

Providing evidence of the current status for each KPI will help you to attribute improvements to the activity included in your proposal. Collecting and reporting on this same data throughout and at the end of the project will allow you to measure your progress.

Mandatory KPIs (KPI type 1)

These are the:

  • estimated cost per participant of accessing training, support or professional development
  • number of parties actively engaging in the project a) providers, b) third party organisations
  • increased hours of training, support or professional development provided by the funding a) delivered, b) accessed
  • increased number of staff: a) accessing training, b) completing training, support or professional development directly provided by the funding
  • number of learners or students reached through project

You should be aware that:

  • hours of training, support or professional development delivered are measured at an event level – for example, a 1 hour training course delivered to 20 participants = 1 hour of training delivered
  • hours of training, support or professional development accessed are measured at an individual level – for example, a 1 hour training course delivered to 20 participants = 20 hours of training accessed

Required KPIs, based on the activities that your bid will deliver (KPI type 2)

These are the:

  • number of employers involved in the development of training, support or professional development
  • number of resources (training courses or guidance) created
  • increased hours of training, support or professional development provided by staff for other staff
  • increased number of staff providing training, support, or professional development for other staff
  • increased number of staff who: a) have identified training needs b) have a development plan in place c) receive training as a result of a) and or b)
  • number of hours of reduced timetabling accessed
  • number of staff accessing training or resources created through the project
  • number of teachers accessing remission and reduced timetabling
  • number of part time staff accessing out of contract hours payments to participate in CPD activities (equivalent to remission funding for full time staff)
  • number or range of subject areas in which training is sought as a result of training needs analysis

Other recommended survey KPIs (KPI type 3)

These are the:

  • indicators of collaboration, such as dissemination of outputs (possibly through the sharing of resources or learnings), or development of professional communities of practice
  • indicators of positive changes to teacher confidence as a result of the project (in, for example, teaching practice; pedagogy; subject specific skills; digital or technological)
  • indicators of positive changes to teacher job satisfaction levels
  • indicators of positive changes to teacher knowledge as a result of the project (in, for example, teaching practice; pedagogy; subject specific knowledge; digital or technological)

Lead providers will centrally collect survey KPIs and report them to DfE and they will form part of your grant award letter. DfE and ESFA will monitor them.

Your proposal should include sufficient KPIs to provide a full understanding of impact at the close of the project. Where these are not met by KPIs in 1, 2 or 3, you will be required to detail these 4 additional bespoke KPIs.

You should consider both short-term or interim, or both, measures and long-term measures to help you to track and report on progress. Interim measures allow for the collection of proxy data over a short-time period where longer-term measures may not be available. Long-term measures should be KPIs or measures that you expect the FEPDG pilot project to affect over a longer period, for example, changes that the FEPDG may expect to influence over one academic year.

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All KPIs should be SMART.


Is the activity and desired outcome clearly specified?


Can the achievement of the activity be quantified and measured?


Is the activity appropriately related to the project’s aims, and what can the consortia bring to the project (background knowledge and experience) in order to achieve it?


Can the activity realistically be achieved with the available resources?


In what time-period will the activity be achieved?

Additional bespoke KPIs (KPI type 4)

Additionally, you will be expected to also include any additional KPIs in your application that are specific to the priority theme for which you are applying for funding and the activities you propose to deliver. These will also form part of your grant award letter and DfE and ESFA will monitor them.


The lead partner will be responsible for:

  • submitting the application
  • managing the funding allocated
  • accounting for progress on the project, including reporting against agreed KPIs
  • submitting monitoring and self-evaluation reports
  • ensuring all partners are engaged with and are active members of the group
  • contributing to dissemination activities to share outputs and promote learning within the FE sector
  • sharing resources created through your project in agreed designated public domains such as GOV.UK – projects that may not have the creation of digital tools as their primary focus will be required to share high-level project summaries along with information about outputs and impact

The lead partner and all partners of the providers must work together to:

  • understand the challenges you are seeking to address through your application
  • deliver the project
  • develop a costed project
  • plan how you’ll use your combined experience and knowledge
  • deliver the project
  • sustain new ways of working or learning beyond the lifetime of the project
  • ensure optimal reach of the project
  • contribute to DfE material to support the promotion of learning
  • participate in any DfE evaluation requirements

Support from third parties

You can get support from a third party, for example, from a:

  • school or academy
  • sector organisation
  • college outside your group submitting the application

If you get support, you will need to:

  • get agreement from all the providers involved in your application
  • provide the names of any third parties you will use on your application
  • provide evidence about the capacity and capability of any third parties you will use
  • complete any due diligence processes that you feel are relevant/proportionate for subcontracting


You can apply for up to £500,000. The expected minimum application is for £100,000. The total fund is £9.5 million. DfE reserves the right to renegotiate proposed projects, including funding values.

Conditions of funding

Your application must ensure:

  • all partners meet the eligibility criteria
  • the proposed project and activities addresses only one priority theme.
  • demonstrate how you have used evidence to identify the specific priority theme as appropriate to meeting the needs of your providers
  • all workforce participants accessing the FEPDG pilot-funded projects are actively engaged or employed in FE education activities
  • all activities in the project funded by the FEPDG pilot are for the primary benefit of FE staff delivering ESFA-funded provision for FE learners in at least one of the eligible funding streams
  • demonstrate how you have used evidence to identify the specific priority theme as appropriate to meeting the needs of your providers
  • identify the products, learning and best practice that will be derived from your project and how this will be shared with the wider FE sector
  • agree to comply with DfE-led dissemination of project summary information, shared resources and effective practice

What’s excluded from FEPDG pilot funding

You cannot use FEPDG pilot funding for capital expenditures on assets valued at over £2,500 which are expected to be used for a period of at least 12 months such as:

  • purchasing assets
  • buildings
  • furniture
  • fittings
  • information technology
  • software

Items valued below £2,500 are not counted as capital assets, even where they have a productive life of more than one year.

Also excluded are any:

  • staff restructuring
  • independent business reviews
  • marketing or public relations activities
  • activities that are predominantly focused on types of non-FE provision (such as higher education provision)
  • activities or services you’d normally get free of charge
  • payments you’ll make for subsidised activities of services at a higher ‘market’ rate

We also don’t expect eligible HE providers to be delivering formal types of professional development or training classed as higher education (at L4 or above) for their staff through the pilot.


Total eligible costs may include irrecoverable VAT, but you will not be able to claim for additional funding above the amount you have been awarded to cover any additional VAT liability.

Further information about the DfE’s position in relation to VAT can be found in the department’s standard grant terms and conditions.

Monitoring, assurance and data requirements

We have a responsibility to make sure that public funds and assets generated from the FEPDG programme are properly managed in line with your grant funding agreement.

You’ll be required to demonstrate that you have administered all funding in accordance with your grant funding agreements, including:

  • providing the DfE with monitoring returns on your use of grant funds
  • providing any management information or data returns required for DfE evaluation
  • identifying risks that could have an impact on your project
  • accounting for progress against the agreed project including KPIs and measures of success
  • producing and maintaining a spending profile – there needs to be clarity within your internal accounting systems to provide assurance on the use of funds

We require rigorous assurance of all expenditure, including your accounting officer verifying evidence provided to us. We will include a sample ‘annex G in your GFA which demonstrates the breadth of this requirement, and we will provide more detailed guidance regarding the annex G process at the end of the financial year 2021 to 2022 (annual certification of expenditure arrangements).

There will be a midpoint reconciliation to review the allocated funding that you received and programme expenditure. In that return, you will also be requested to provide indicative expenditure for the remainder of the programme so that we know what is likely to be spent. We will adjust funding to meet the actual amount required. Where funding that you have received is more than the amount that you will, or are forecasting, to spend by 31 March 2022, we may recover the excess either by offsetting this amount against the remaining payment of FEPDG pilot funding, invoicing you, or through a future reduction in ESFA funding.

We reserve the right to delay or withhold payments if data is inaccurate or incomplete. In the event of any variances, we reserve the right to ask you for explanations of the variances and to seek further information. We won’t reimburse you for any ineligible expenditure.

When your project is completed we will ask you to complete an annex G in accordance with published guidance, containing income and expenditure. This must be independently audited and countersigned by the accounting officer.

Data requirements and reporting

You must submit relevant data and management information to us at specific times during and after the programme, including:

  • monthly proforma detailing progress of activities against KPIs and spending profile
  • a monitoring return on your use of grant funds at the mid-point and endpoint of your project

We may take into account failure to comply with requests for data when we consider further requests for any future funding.


Successful applicants will be required to participate in any possible additional DfE evaluation which will be confirmed in due course if relevant. DfE may generate data based on this evaluation which may be published in an anonymised way so that individuals and colleges cannot be identified.

Payment and repayment of funding

The lead partner will receive payment from ESFA under a funding schedule.

ESFA will enter into a contract with the lead partner. Any arrangements between the lead partner and all other partners in the providers are to be determined by your group.

FEPDG pilot funding will be repayable if:

  • FEPDG pilot funding is not spent by 31 March 2022
  • FEPDG pilot funding is not spent on the eligible activities you have detailed in your project (unless any change has been agreed with the ESFA and DfE)
  • reports on expenditures and outcomes are not submitted

Assessment criteria

Applicants will be assessed against the following criteria.

Quality of proposed workforce development activity

This includes:

  • how proposed activity meets the principles of high-quality professional development for teachers as laid out in the national standard (DfE’s standard for teacher’s professional development was created by an expert advisory group and based on the best available evidence about what makes professional development effective)
  • evidence and rationale for why the project will successfully address one of the three priority areas and how it builds on effective practice
  • how the project will support wider organisational priorities or improvement needs, such as education recovery work

Expected benefits for providers, staff and learners

This includes:

  • an assessment of the expected benefits, outputs, and longer-term outcomes for staff, learners, and providers
  • how providers will collect, monitor, and report the impacts of the project
  • how outputs (such as shared resources etc) and learnings will be widely disseminated
  • benchmarking and assessment of project Key Performance Indicators


This includes:

  • evidence the lead provider has sufficient capacity and capabilities to lead the bid
  • evidence other applicants also have sufficient capacity and capability to deliver bid
  • is the application supported by each provider’s governing body
  • detail of the governance structure that will oversee funded activity, including roles, responsibilities and how progress will be monitored
  • assessment of completed project plan, including proposed mitigation of identified risks

Value for money and use of funding

This includes:

  • how project will represent good value for money and evidence sufficient financial controls will be in place
  • evidence projects will complement and not duplicate or replace existing CPD provision or workforce support
  • assessment and benchmarking of completed financial profile


This includes:

  • how the funding will build new, or strengthen existing, collaborative working relationships between providers and staff
  • evidence all providers in a project will add value and benefit through participation


This includes:

  • evidence the project is expected to have continued benefits beyond the grant period
  • how outputs from FEPDG project or learning/effective will be shared with other FE providers to extend the reach of the programme

Bid scoring

DfE officials will undertake relevant checks to verify details and assure eligibility, both through published and internal data. We will undertake scoring of all applications, which meet the minimum eligibility criteria, based on information and data provided by the applicant. Assessors may also take account of specialist advice where appropriate, such as from ESFA, FE Commissioner’s Office. They may seek the views of interested parties to verify the information in an application.

We will disqualify proposals that do not meet the minimum eligibility criteria set out in section one from the process and will not assess them. To note: the Secretariat may contact the lead applicant for clarification or amendment as it works to determine eligibility.

We will assess scoring for sections two and three of the application form in line with the following descriptors. Please note that we will score deliverability across Section 2 Q4, and Section 3: activities to be funded, and we will score value for money across Section 2 Q5 and Section 3: financial profile. We will moderate responses to ensure scoring is consistent and in line with the published scoring criteria.

We will assess and sift all applications which meet the eligibility criteria. Applications must score at least 2 for all criteria to be considered for funding.

We will generally base decisions about successful bids on the highest scoring applications, although we will notionally ringfence a minimum of 15% of the total budget for each of the three priority areas. Providing there are applications in a priority area that meet the minimum pass mark, we will prioritise them over higher-scoring bids in another area until we have met the ringfenced amount. We will then allocate all remaining budget according to application scores until we have exhausted funding. If we receive insufficient quality bids for a given priority area to spend 15% of the budget, we will release this back into the main funding pot.

Applicants’ priority scoring if they have submitted multiple applications will also be taken into account, as well as any other relevant considerations such as geography and the mix of provider types to ensure there is a suitable mix of projects.

Rating Judgement Definition
4 Clearly exceeds requirements The response provided fully satisfies and exceeds the criteria detailed in the question, offering additional and clearly recognisable benefits or evidence over and above the level required in the specification. The applicant has submitted a response which fully and successfully demonstrates that they meet the criteria detailed, and in addition has identified and demonstrated factors that will offer additional benefits.
3 Strong demonstration against requirements or some evidence of exceeding requirements The response provided fully satisfies the criteria detailed in the question, with some evidence that exceeds requirements. The applicant has submitted a response which fully and successfully demonstrates that they meet the criteria detailed.
2 Meets requirements The response satisfies only some of the minimum criteria detailed in the question. The applicant’s response exhibits some omissions regarding meeting the criteria detailed. The applicant has provided some evidence to support their response. However, this is lacking in detail in one or more respects.
1 Narrowly fails to meet requirements The response fails to meet several criteria detailed in the question. The applicant has submitted a response which exhibits clear and significant omissions regarding meeting the criteria.
0 Nil response No response provided.

Overall scoring

Section number: see application for full question Available marks
Lead applicant eligibility Pass or fail
Provider partner(s) eligibility Pass or fail
Quality and relevance of proposed activity 0 to 4
Expected benefits for providers, staff, and learners 0 to 4
Provider capability and capacity 0 to 4
Value for money and use of funding 0 to 4
Collaboration 0 to 4
Sustainability 0 to 4

Selection process

Assessment scores will be independently moderated.

Ministerial decision

DfE Ministers will make the final decision about successful bids, having taken account of the assessors’ recommendations.

Guidance for completing the application form

We have developed the questions in the application form to gather evidence of experience and capacity to act as a lead partner and provider in the FEPDG pilot programme. You should read the full guidance for the FEPDG pilot application form (MS Word Document, 146KB) published on Gov.uk and the application guidance throughout the form to support you with completing the application form. You may also find it helpful to review the assessment criteria so you can see how your application will be scored.

Where a word limit is indicated, we will not assess any text that exceeds this limit. The word limit provided is an upper limit and we will not penalise you if your answer is shorter, provided there is sufficient evidence to fulfil the assessment criteria.

Answer the questions in the format set out below. In the interest of equity, we will only assess written information provided in this document. We do not expect diagrams or pictures to be submitted. Additional information, including links to websites or attached documents, will not be considered.

DfE also reserves the right to contact cited parties to confirm information given in this application and any other party we consider to be relevant to your application for ongoing information should the application be successful.

DfE will not score applications which do not meet the eligibility criteria.

DfE will not offer a right to appeal any decision to reject a FEPDG pilot applicant.

Ensure that you complete all sections of this form.

We may subject information provided on this form, including personal information, to publication or disclosure in accordance with the access to information regimes, primarily the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Data Protection Act 1998.


Email [email protected] if you have any questions about the pilot or how to apply.

Published 18 June 2021 Contents