Percipio.London: National Tutoring Programme
National Tutoring Programme
In July of 2020, Percipio were appointed both digital and print partner for the National Tutoring Programme. The brief was to launch the new online platform, support and maintain this platform and produce all required digital assist (printed) materials.
National Tutoring Programme
Despite the considerable efforts schools made to support remote learning during Covid-19 school closures, many pupils fell significantly behind in their learning. These pupils were more likely from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds meaning the gap in attainment between this group and their classmates certainly widened.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson set out a package of measures to support pupils in the 2020/21 academic year and beyond. Part of this package stated that state schools in England would be able to access high-quality tutoring for their pupils through the National Tutoring Programme.
The web application was to be the primary platform to inform and connect schools with high-quality tuition partners across England in an effort to reduce the widening attainment gap caused by the school closures.
About the project
The NTP entity launched with great alacrity in June 2020, initially using the EEF platform for it’s communications. We received a brief to build an information based web application to provide key information and increase engagement and awareness of the newly formed National Tutoring Programme.
As a result, this project had the tightest deadline we’ve ever worked with – only 2 weeks from brand approval to a national launch.
Experience dictates that a site launch in the public eye takes 4 – 6 months to plan and develop, so to turn an idea into a usable product in such a short space of time required a great deal of client trust. Given the lack of time to launch, the strategy was fairly simple – build an accessible, fully content-managed web application the NTP can use to increase awareness and engagement.
We work hard here at Percipio to ensure we’re not constantly re-inventing the wheel and automating any functions that we regularly repeat. Why set up a database from scratch, again? Why build another set of content builders, again? Why install a host of dependencies again? Spending time automating repeated processes allows us to work with far greater efficiency and use development budgets more for actual development and less for setup and administration – you can read more about our devOps mentality on the blog.
Having these automated processes already in place allowed us to condense several weeks of setup and configuration into a few hours and deploy a useable systems architecture for content authors inside of a single day. This ensured NTP could begin the authoring process in situ, detached from the overall platform before the front-end framework was in place.
Whilst the UI work is all done here in-house at Percipio (say hi to Stu), the nice folks over at Nice and Serious had provided us with a set of solid brand guidelines to operate from. It’s fair to say that at this stage it was important to keep the build simple – platform improvements and iterations could occur over time – so that the launch deadline was met and information could be consumed.
We were fortunate to have insight into the expected traffic surge given the temporary home for NTP was on the EEF (another platform we are the development partner for). Using this insight, we could ensure that CDNs, load balancers and servers were set in place ready for traffic surges, additionally making allowances for multiple redundancy platforms, ready to take over in the event of failure.
The launch went incredibly smoothly – and because we use atomic deployments in our projects we were able to push adjustments to layouts and type inconsistencies during the day, ensuring the applications remained always available to the user.
After a 2 week development sprint and successful launch, we fell back into a regular devOps cycle and maintaining a more relaxed deploy schedule, making constant improvement and iterations to the core foundation.
The NTP web application serves up in excess of 20k page views per day and facilitates a tuition partner match to a school via the Metaseed API every 20 seconds.
As of February 2021, over 4,000 schools and 100,000 children are now enrolled with an approved NTP Tuition Partner and over 1,000 Academic Mentors are now working in schools.
The support Percipio has provided to the National Tutoring Programme has been absolutely invaluable. We needed an accessible, high-quality web application that could be used by every school in England. Jamie and the team more than delivered.