Turning education and skills policy into practice

Support for government

AlphaPlus works with government agencies in the UK and internationally to help turn education policy into practice. Our team of experienced educationalists bring a strong commitment to improving teaching, learning and assessment. We have an excellent track record of helping policy makers implement and evaluate strategic interventions.

Our work for government and government agencies spans education research, qualification and assessment design and evaluation, and programme implementation. In the UK we have repeatedly been contracted by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), the Department for Education (DfE) and Ofqual (the regulator of qualifications, examinations and assessments in England and vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland), while our work overseas includes developing national occupational standards and qualifications for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and supporting the Measurement and Evaluation Division of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC).

We list a selection of relevant projects below.

Client: Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS)
Project: Quantitative programme of research for adult English and Maths
AlphaPlus has been appointed by BIS as part of a consortium to deliver a major research project into acquisition and retention of adult basic skills. Using a Randomised Controlled Trial, the research aims to test different models of teaching and learning of adult basic English and maths provision and assess which is most effective for different types of learners.  One of AlphaPlus’ roles in the project is to develop new psychometric assessment tools to measure skills levels. We are using IRT to map candidates taking assessments at neighbouring levels onto a single scale in order that progresson can be measured before and after the intervention.

Client: Saudi Skills Standards (SSS)
Project: Producing 50 national occupational skills standards
AlphaPlus was appointed in 2013 to support the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in one of the largest technical and vocational training upgrades in the world, aimed at dramatically increasing capacity from about 100,000 students today to around 400,000 by 2023. Initially, we developed 40 qualifications for the launch of the new awarding organisation, Saudi Skils Standards (SSS). AlphaPlus was subsequently commissioned to develop 50 national occupational standards for SSS and we continue to carry out qualification development for KSA.

Client: Ofqual
Project: Analysis of the consultation carried out into HE involvement in GCE A Levels and amended GCE A Level criteria
AlphaPlus provided analysis of the Ofqual consultation on HE engagement and the new design rules for A Level. The work involved managing seven stakeholder events, plus providing full analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data from both the online survey phase of the consultation and the consultation events. We worked flexibly to meet the needs of the consultation, including managing a range of data, submitted in different formats (both paper-based and electronic).

Client: DfE
Project: The independent evaluation of the pilot of the linked pair of GCSEs in mathematics
This large-scale longitudinal national evaluation involves considerable desk research and fieldwork as part of a mixed methods research methodology.  The evaluation focuses on manageability, the impact on teaching and learning, and learners’ attitudes towards mathematics. The project includes working with a wide range of stakeholders including schools, further education colleges, higher education institutions, professional and subject associations, employers and trade unions. Fieldwork includes case study visits, telephone interviews, learner focus groups and online surveys. Findings will inform wider policy decisions.

Client: Ofqual
Project: Qualifications and credit framework unit sampling and monitoring
AlphaPlus carried out the review and analysis of 750 QCF units against the criteria contained in the Regulatory arrangements for the Qualifications and Credit Framework. The work was commissioned by Ofqual on behalf of the qualifications regulators (Ofqual in England, DCELLS in Wales and CCEA in Northern Ireland).  The work is necessary to ensure compliance with statutory regulations and to ensure stakeholders have confidence in the system.

The Qualification design and development team

Visit the team profile page for more information

John Winkley

Sarah Maughan

Tom Mitchell

Gavin Reynaud

Andrew Boyle

Clare Dowland

Zak Horrocks

Adaora Okechuku

Gillian Whitehouse

Professor Roger Murphy

John Hamer


John Winkley, Director

0161 238 4928