From time to time and in order to meet our customer’s needs, the college will elect to off provision to open tender.

Indicative reasons for The Vocational College to maintain and develop subcontracted provision are:

1. Delivery of niche provision
2. To widen the range and scope of provision offered by Activate Learning in terms of engagement, retention and progression opportunities
3. To contract expert teaching and resources in a cost effective manner
4. To support delivery of Skills Funding Agency Contract
5. To increase referrals in terms of learner and employer engagement between the organisations
6. To deliver provision which engages hard-to-reach learners (e.g. Not in Employment , Education or Training – NEETs) with the ultimate aim of progression into mainstream provision
7. To respond to meet customer demands (Students, Employers and Community)
8. To capacity build both organisations in order to respond to new projects and priorities
9. To develop and support small local training providers

The college is committed to showing that we are confident and capable of delivering programmes that offer value for money. Our aim is to ensure high-quality provision and remain responsive to learners and employers when using sub-contractors.

We will off contracts in the following categories:-

  • Provision sub-contract – The sub-contractor will hold its own funded allocation profile to achieve starts and outcomes.
  • Services sub-contract – The college will retain all its provision but will use the sub-contractor’s services as an integral part of its delivery.

We require all subcontractors with subcontracts totalling £100,000 and above to be entered on the Register. We will only invite those subcontractors who are entered on the Register to compete in tender opportunities . Entry on the Register does not guarantee you will receive funding. It does mean we may invite you to compete for future tendering opportunities. It is important to the college to build a winning relationship and to ensure that our sub-contractors have both the capacity and capability to deliver their (tender) promise.

The college will issue a detailed Expression of Interest (EOI) form as part of the tender/base documentation and includes:

  • Organisation overview
  • Structure – legal and operational
  • Rationale for contract request
  • Demand-led evidence
  • Added value to prime contractor and sector
  • Current offer
  • QA systems
  • Company search and financial health check
  • Completed agency register (online due diligence process)
  • References

The desktop assessment of submitted EOIs involves a detailed evaluation of information by an experienced contract manager and other specialists. EOIs will be scored against the criteria in Table 1 below. This informs the decision as to whether or not to proceed with a subcontract request, ensures compliance with EU directives and that we remain objective in our judgement decisions.

Risk Management Profile
Risk Score Grade Designation Review Period
0-30 A Outstanding 8 Weeks
31-50 B Good 6 Weeks
51-75 C Satisfactory 4 Weeks
76-100 D Unsatisfactory 2 Weeks


Tender Process


The college’s sub-contracting process is designed to be transparent and meet all current funding organisations requirements. The process is outlined as follows:-

Stage One: We will call on organisations to complete an Expression of Interest form. We may ask you to update this form on an annual basis or as and when your organisational information changes.

Stage Two: Expression of Interest Forms will be evaluated and scored in line with Skills Funding Agency Guidelines. Requests for clarification or provision of further evidence will be made at this time.

Stage Three: For those organisations successfully selected at Stage Two we will ask you to provide further detailed information including information required for the bid and enter detailed (financial / delivery) discussions. A due diligence visit will be arranged at by the college’s QA team.

Feedback will be provided on request for Stages 2 and 3.


Contracting Process


Due diligence site visit

Following the desktop assessment, a due diligence site visit will be arranged to those providers the college wishes to proceed with. An experienced team will visit the sub-contractor’s premises (and other sites). During the visit the desktop assessment will be used to inform the depth and breadth of examination. The team will:

  • Consider the capability and capacity assessment
  • Thoroughly examine the information provided
  • Conduct a financial audit
  • Interview the management team and a sample of staff
  • Conduct a health, safety and safeguarding assessment
  • Identify strengths, potential risks and development needs



After all the evidence has been collated, a judgement is made with three possible outcomes:

Type Decision
Approved Fully satisfied with the provider’s capacity and capability
31-50 Conditional Satisfied with the provider’s capacity and capability but have highlighted some areas for improvement or potential risk
Not Approved Not satisfied with the provider’s capacity and capability (Formal feedback meeting.)



Based on the approval level, and through discussion or negotiation at a formal contract meeting, the college and subcontractor will agree the content and value of the contract.

The following core contract components will be agreed:

  • Sub-contractor profile
  • Sub-contractor duty performance levels
  • Prime contractor duty
  • Prime contractor service offer
  • Prime contractor management and service charges based on due diligence results
  • A contract volume and value

Management Fees and Charges Policy


Detailed subcontracting fees will be discussed and set with individual providers at the formal contracting meeting following the process outlined below.


The college will include costs to manage the sub-contracting process, such as:

  • Pre-contract assessment
  • Performance management
  • Audit and quality control
  • H&s and safeguarding
  • Risk management (accountability).
  • Learner award body registration and certification

Fees will be calculated as follows:

Type of Contract Fee Formula
Allocated provision Management fee % of contract value (% determined by level of activity and risk band)
Purchased services Fixed tariff per service; varies by type of service


Fees model – allocated provision contract – sub-contracting charges (example)


Our contribution to improving the overall quality of teaching and learning.

Subcontractors are supported by The Vocational College to maintain the same high quality standards expected across all aspects of The Vocational College.

Our approach to ensuring the quality of subcontracted provision is set out in the following three steps:

1. Requiring that all sub-contractors abide by The Vocational College’s quality assurance policies, processes and procedures ensuring the quality of their provision.

2. Collecting and examining the output from the above measures – this may include internal and external quality assurance reports, lesson observations, Learner and Employer feedback, programme reviews and improvement plans, staff CPD records, etc.

3. Validating the quality of data received by implementing quality checks and internal audits across the subcontracted provision, including OTLA and quality check visits carried out by subject specialist staff, employer and learner feedback surveys, interviews with subcontractor staff, etc.


The Vocational College will further contribute to quality assurance by:

1. Ensuring that subcontractors are included in The Vocational College quality process.

2. Providing subcontractors with a key contact at The Vocational College for any issues relating to the contract delivery.

3. Holding regular contract review meetings with subcontractors to performance manage quality and to mitigate any risks related to the provision. The contract reviews will be followed by developmental action plans that build the capacity of the provider to offer the best services to Students.

4. Working with subcontractors to respond to the Employer and Student feedback to improve experience.

5. Identifying and sharing the best practise to improve Students’ experience.

6. Sharing resources and providing learner access to The Vocational College facilities, including online learning resources.

7. Providing staff development opportunities for subcontractor staff


Payment terms: timing of payments in relation to delivering provision and timescale for paying invoices and claims for funding received.

For any payments to be made to the Subcontractor, the Subcontractor must conform to the terms of the contract and provide the required paperwork, data and information for The Vocational College to make a successful claim via its Individual Learner Record (ILR) to the relevant funding agency.

Subcontractors are paid by the end of the calendar month for the learning activity delivered the previous month subject to meeting contractual requirements. Alternative payment conditions may operate, following discussions with the subcontractor, depending on the contract delivery model and contract delivery time.

Subcontractors receive detailed monthly payment information, showing the management fee withheld and the funds that are being paid to subcontractor to ensure transparency.

All subcontractors are set up as Suppliers on Activate Learning Finance system. The payment is made to the subcontractor via BACS.

The funding arrangements with each subcontractor are designed to provide payment for services delivered by. These are:-

In-learning payment (OPP). This payment is made for services delivered and paid at the monthly rate per learner subject to acceptable evidence submitted and accompanied by a valid invoice. In Learning Payments account for 75% of the programme.

Achievement payment. Achievement payments are paid to recognise the achievements of providers in helping learners achieve qualifications and will be paid on the production of valid learner achievement evidence in the form of either:-

1. A “Certified True Copy” of a valid awarding body certificate
2. A “Certified True Copy” of an Awarding Body achievement nominal role

Achievement payments account for 25% of the programme.

Please see an example of a typical Apprenticeship payment below:


How and when the policy is communicated to and discussed with current and potential subcontractors.

This policy is communicated to and discussed with potential sub-contractors before entering any contract and on an annual basis with each review.

Timing for policy review

This Policy is reviewed on an annual basis – last reviewed January 2016.


The Policy is available for current and potential subcontractors to view on The Vocational College website.
Potential subcontractors are requested to read the Policy as part of due diligence for subcontracting arrangements with The Vocational College.


The Vocational College reserve the right to amend the subcontracting arrangements at any time in accordance with the terms and conditions contained in the subcontract agreements.


Tender Opportunities

No tender opportunities at present.


ESF Match Funding

ESF Match Funding

Many programmes delivered by the college under our SFA and EFA contracts qualify for ESF Match funding. The administration of the ESF proportion of programmes is achieved through the timely and accurate submission of learner data to the appropriate funding agency and does not require any additional work on behalf of the sub-contractor. It is, however, a contractual obligation to acknowledge that programmes may be ESF match funded. This is achieved by ensuring the following rules are adhered to:-

• Displaying an approved ESF project funding plaque in a prominent place wherever programmes are delivered. (Plaques are provided free of charge by the Skills Funding Agency)

• Display the current ESF logo. This is to help ensure as many people as possible get to know about ESF and what it does.

• Use the logo on, for example:

  • all information and publicity materials including websites
  • all programme documents supported by ESF
  • advertisements, press releases and other media targeted materials
  • any document related to project delivery.

• Advertising achievements funded by the programme to ensure as many people as possible get to know about ESF and what it does.

• Displaying the following logos in a prominent position on company websites:-

  • ESF
  • The Vocational College
  • Relevant funding organisation (ESF, EFA, Skills Funding Agency)
Informing participants

You must inform all participants taking part in ESF or match-funded provision about the support from ESF and the European Union (EU) at the start of and throughout their activity.

You can achieve this through a range of measures.

• You must ensure that clear messages are given on the role of the ESF and EU investment in relation to the project and wider ESF programme. For example:

  • clear verbal explanations of EU and ESF support in presentations, plus clear display of ESF logo and references to EU support on any associated slides
  • handouts given to participants, such as leaflets or forms containing the ESF logo. Explanations could contain a few ESF programme wide and project facts and be presented as engagingly as possible – for example as ‘did you know that……’ facts, supported by a strong ESF visual look
  • the use of ESF DVDs or other audio/visual material produced by the provider, CFO or other funder, ESF Managing Authority or European Commission. For example the ESF Managing Authority has produced a short, engaging film “ESF and you” telling the stories of three former and two current participants – and how ESF funded skills and employment activity is improving their lives
  • handing out low cost ESF promotional materials such as pens that show the ESF logo.

Published Management Fees

Click here to download Published Fees 2013-14

Click here to download Published Fees 2014-15

Click here to download Published Fees 2015-16

Click here to download Published Fees 2016-17