From education to employment

NCFE launches £1 million Assessment Innovation Fund

Janine Oliver, Head of Assessment Innovation at NCFE

Educational charity and leader in vocational and technical learning, NCFE, launches a new £1 million fund to develop new and future-focused approaches to assessment in education.

The Assessment Innovation Fund (AIF) will be a catalyst for large-scale change by providing evidence-based, alternative assessment solutions to deliver a transformational learning and assessment experience.

The fund is now open for applications from any organisation with an interesting idea about what the future of assessment might look like for the various stages of the learner journey.

In each application window, there will be an expert panel of six members selected from the AIF board (comprising academic and regulated awarding and assessment organisations, EdTech organisations, corporates, Jisc, colleges, providers and NCFE representatives), who will provide the governance for pilots taken forward. Initial funding will be for a 12-month programme of activity and organisations can apply for up to £100,000 to be allocated per pilot.

NCFE’s ambition is to create innovative, robust and reliable assessment solutions, within an intelligent education ecosystem that help to build trust, confidence, and value at every level of the system. These assessment approaches will be inherently fair, and will provide an appropriate level of ‘recognisable value’ to all stakeholders who have invested in learning.

Janine Oliver, Head of Assessment Innovation at NCFE said:

“At the heart of NCFE’s vision to promote and advance learning is the deep desire to help every individual achieve their full potential throughout their lifetime, whatever the starting point and however ambitious the goals.

As the pace of change in the world is ever-increasing, particularly due to disruptive new technologies, major societal trends, and not to mention the ongoing global pandemic, the needs of the labour market will continue to rapidly evolve. This will require most people to continuously develop themselves to overcome challenges and seize opportunities, demonstrating their skills along the way.

 An integral part of enabling this development is through looking at the future of assessment and identifying the key ingredients required to create a system that is truly transformational for learners in technical and vocational education.

Through this fund, we hope to enable and empower organisations to think big –  to explore, innovate and importantly evidence how we can continue to evolve the way we assess in the future, learning lessons from the seismic global changes over the last 2 years.”

Help shape the future of learning and assessment

Get up to £100,000 of funding to bring your assessment design ideas to life.

We’re dedicated to promoting and advancing learning – it’s our core purpose.

This purpose drives our commitment to deliver world-class educational services that enable learners to achieve their potential. We also believe that great innovation needs great collaborators. That’s why we’ve launched our Assessment Innovation Fund.

Over the next 12 months, we’ll be investing  £1million worth of funding to support you in piloting new and innovative approaches to assessment. This includes testing out brand-new ideas and exploring the use of technology.

We want to support you in developing your ideas for better assessment that meets the needs of learners and educators today.

We’re offering up to £100,000 to fund two pilots as part of our next phase. We want to hear from you if you think you can help develop new and innovative assessment solutions that meet the evolving needs of the education sector.

Interested in transforming assessment?

Just follow these 5 simple steps:

What happens during the Assessment Innovation team call?

You’ll collaborate with an NCFE colleague around the idea for your pilot. They will: 

  • Support you with questions around the contracting process  
  • Help with developing a project plan   
  • Work with you to develop project milestones  
  • Give guidance on the reporting requirements for the project
  • Encourage accountability based on evidence and impact   
  • Ensure an evaluation process is in place.  

Ultimately, they’ll provide the support you need to effectively pilot your idea. 

What we’re looking for 

We want to hear from you if you think you can help transform assessment and provide solutions that: 

  • Deliver a transformational learning and assessment experience for all learners 
  • Consider meta and technical skills development to enable learners to develop agency 
  • Enable personalisation in assessment 
  • Develop an assessment system that is fair and inclusive by design and moves away from high stakes, stressful exams where appropriate to do so 
  • Provide balance and interplay of formative and summative assessment 
  • Implement technology to make assessment more readily available and fit for purpose 
  • Build a real-time picture of the impact of the learning     
  • Use data and technology in insightful and efficient ways to enable high quality teaching, learning and assessment 
  • Use data more effectively to improve the level of perceived value of assessment processes, as a means of enabling choice and informing every stage of the learning journey. 

Who can apply for funding? 

We’d love to hear from: 

  • Training providers   
  • Qualification developers  
  • Awarding organisations  
  • Quality assurers   
  • Ed tech organisations  
  • Colleges 
  • Other organisations interested in changing the future of assessment. 

What if your application is unsuccessful?

Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t succeed on your first application. We’re committing to support ideas that, with a bit of extra help from us, have the potential to go the distance. We’ll help you work through some of the extra detail needed and encourage you to make a second application for funding. 

Whatever stage your idea is at, if you think it’s something special, apply as part of our next funding round. 

For answers to common questions about the Assessment Innovation Fund please read our FAQs document

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