Case Studies Developing Standards on the Essential Digital Skills for the Department for Education (DfE)

Vocational UK Qualifications and Standards


AlphaPlus led the development of the new Essential Digital Skills standards on behalf of the Department for Education (DfE).

The new standards cover Entry Level 1 through to Level 1 and capture the full range of basic digital skills needed for life and work. They were developed in full consultation with stakeholders engaged in digital inclusion and skills, including teaching professionals, education and training providers, employers, digital inclusion charities and awarding organisations.

The new national basic digital skills standards are based on the Tech Partnership’s Basic Digital Skills Framework and cover five main areas:

  • Handling information (finding, managing and storing digital information and content)
  • Creating, editing and processing digital content
  • Communicating and sharing with others
  • Transacting (buying and selling goods and services, organising finances, registering for and using government services)
  • Being safe and responsible online (protecting data, behaving responsibly and managing risks online)

Our role

  • Developing a set of national standards for basic digital skills to cover Entry Level 1 to Level 1
  • Working to a steering group of key stakeholders such as DfE, Ofqual, employers and digital inclusion charities
  • Running consultations on the new standards


The process involved:

  • Developing a set of draft, high-level standards, based on the outcomes of desk research, including a review of existing standards, such as the current Tech Partnership/Go On framework.
  • Producing first draft detailed standards based on feedback from a small group of stakeholders.
  • Running larger consultations on detailed standards, ensuring an inclusive and balanced engagement with a wide range of stakeholders including employers, practitioners, subject specialists and digital inclusion charities and organisations.

Adults now have the opportunity to undertake fully funded digital courses based on the new national standards, which replaced national standards that date back to 2005.