From education to employment

£300K fund launches to develop new and inclusive assessment methods

A charitable fund offering two organisations up to £150,000 for projects that explore innovative approaches to assessment for vocational education has been launched. 

The Assessment Innovation Fund, created by the educational charity and leader in vocational and technical education NCFE, and supported by Ufi VocTech Trust, is for any organisation with an idea and interest in transforming the current education system. 

Encouraging the development of learner-centric and adaptable assessment solutions, the jointly supported fund will look to harness digital technology to create a more inclusive, robust, fairer, and reliable assessment experience within vocational education.

Philip Le Feuvre, Chief Operating Officer at NCFE, said:

“Through the Assessment Innovation Fund, our vision is to push the boundaries of assessment and investigate potential solutions that will deliver benefits for learners and our system. 

“The fund will leverage NCFE and Ufi’s combined resources and knowledge to support innovation that helps the vocational and technical education sector keep pace with the digital age. Projects from previous successful applications are now in progress, with exciting findings that include testing out new ideas and exploring the use of technology. 

“But the work doesn’t stop there. If you have an innovative idea that is ready to test at scale, we’d love to hear about your project.”

Eligibility for the Assessment Innovation Fund includes, but isn’t limited to, training providers, qualification developers, awarding organisations, quality assurers, EdTech companies, and colleges.

The fund forms part of a strategic partnership between NCFE and Ufi VocTech Trust seeking to encourage the development of learner-centric and adaptable assessment solutions that meet the needs of learners and employers.

Louise Rowland, Deputy CEO at Ufi VocTech Trust, said:

“I’m delighted our partnership with NCFE is working to improve assessment of vocational training and skills to get more adults learning across the UK.  

“The assessment and qualification system is holding the UK back from getting the skills it needs. Reform is needed to ensure we have an agile and responsive system that can give people and employers the skills they need for work.  

“Technology is central to this – enabling the creation of adaptive, responsive, and relevant forms of assessment and qualifications. Our partnership with NCFE will help us to support innovators, showcase new digital approaches to assessment, and champion the need for change in assessment practices.”    

Previous successful projects have included the use of virtual reality in assessments, how immersive and interactive storytelling can engage hard-to-reach students who don’t respond to mainstream education, and the use of artificial intelligence to support learners and educators with formative assessment through Bolton College’s FirstPass platform. 

NCFE is dedicated to promoting and advancing learning, believing that great innovation needs great collaborators. That’s why it launched the Assessment Innovation Fund in 2021 and has already invested £1 million across a range of pilots, both in the UK and overseas.

To support new applicants to the fund, NCFE is hosting two online workshops in February to help explain the process further and offer the chance to ask questions, including about suitable ideas, scoring, and how the final decision is made. 

The current funding window is open to applications until 12 March 2024. To find out more about the Assessment Innovation Fund, submit your interest, or register for an online workshop, visit here

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