Skip to navigation | Skip to main content | Skip to footer
Search the Staffnet siteSearch StaffNet

Flexible Learning Pilots

Pilots Phase Two application form

Please ensure you have read the guidance below before you complete the form. 

Access application form

As part of the Flexible Learning Programme, we are seeking to identify and establish new experiences, pathways, practices and processes that change the experience of learning for students and staff.

Our approach is to provide opportunities and funding to explore new ways of working that may enhance learning and be suitable for wider adoption. To facilitate this, the Flexible Learning Programme will support a range of pilot projects during the programme lifespan.

Pilot projects are a long-established mechanism for testing out ideas before committing to them fully.

Benefits of Flexible Learning pilots: 

  • Supporting and encouraging innovation and to explore the potential of flexible learning
  • Generate greater insights into the experiences of learners, academic staff, professional service staff, and external stakeholders 
  • Regular monitoring, evaluation and learning will allow us to better understand challenges risks and opportunities (more information on reporting requirements below) 
  • Helping us to identify where changes to systems and processes are needed to support innovation and alternative pathways and offers
  • Lessons learnt from pilots will provide valuable insights for any future activities and recommendations (even if pilots don’t reach their intended outcome

Please read the guidance below and complete the form (link in box above, to the left) if you'd like to submit an outline proposal for funding from the Flexible Learning Programme pilot activity.

Themes for Phase Two Call

In January 2023 FLP put a call out for expressions of interests (EOI) for funding to take forward a phase I pilot in support of the flexible learning programme strategic objectives. Phase I was an open call, with colleagues able to submit an EOI for any area they wished to take forward, aligned to FLP objectives, but we still have some gaps in areas where we’d very much like to focus some future pilot activity. 

Therefore, for phase II, we are now seeking expressions of interest for pilots aligned to specific themes and workstreams, which FLP are seeking to commission. By pre-identifying pilots, we will be able to streamline the approval process and provide additional support for their development. 

 We have identified six themes and the following pilot areas:

1. Digital badges:

a. Use of digital badges embedded within existing credit bearing modules.

b. Digital badges for evidencing and supporting extra-curriculum activity.

2. Enhancing the student experience through flexible learning:

a. Optionality in assessment.

b. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) 

3. Lifelong Learning:

a. “Chunking” existing credit-bearing modules for external CPD use.

b. Design and development of bespoke short courses for upskilling individuals. 

4. Content development using a ‘design by team’ approach: 

a. Building student digital confidence through induction

b. Blended Learning: Development of online and in-person teaching modules that align course structures with OfS regulations for blended learning.

c. Trans-national professional learning courses (CPD)

d. An introduction to Generative AI for educational purposes.

5. Flexible Learning Spaces (from March 2024): 

a. Hyflex/Dual Teaching.

b. Teaching using Virtual Reality.

6. Technologies for Learning and Teaching: 

a. Exploring processes for identifying and delivering T&L software to meet new or existing needs. 

Pilot submission process

We welcome conversations about pilot proposals prior to making a submission – you can send an email to including details of the focus or lead theme of your pilot idea. The process is designed to be supportive and encourage the submission of ideas through a light touch proposal form.

Submissions will be reviewed by the relevant academic lead for the primary theme. The recommendation of the reviewing academic lead will then be endorsed by the Embedding Flexible Learning governance group. If the panel approves this outline proposal, applicants will be required to complete a more detailed proposal, including a detailed project plan and costing model. (Guidance for this will be provided). 

If a pilot is not selected, feedback will be provided. A list of funded pilots will be made available on the StaffNet pages. 

Whilst it is not a requirement that the initial outline proposals are signed off by any departmental heads/leads, it will be necessary for the fully detailed project plan and costings to have evidence of departmental support. 

Pilots submission process


Colleagues can submit their proposals flexibly throughout the year and proposals will be reviewed on a rolling monthly basis.

Due to the varied nature of pilot projects, the timeframes will vary depending on the type and scale of the proposed pilot. We anticipate that most pilots will run from between a couple of months to a full year., The most important consideration is that pilots have adequate time to engage with stakeholders, implement ideas and evaluate the experience.  

All pilots should be completed by the end of the academic year 2025. However, there may be the potential to transition pilot activity to ‘business as usual’ as part of the proposed ‘Centre’ for Flexible Learning. 

Costing and Financial Management

All outline pilot proposals are asked to give an indication of what any funding will be used for. Detailed costing will be required for the full pilot proposal, you can find the costing model: 

There is no specified limit of funding, but the Flexible Learning Programme will seek evidence of careful consideration of costs and cost-effectiveness. There is no restriction as to what the budget can be utilised for, but all budget requests will need to be in line with the financial regulations of the University and funds received should only be used to directly support the pilot.

Following approval of the full pilot proposal, pilots will be managed by the local area team with operational autonomy from the Flexible Learning Programme team. Funds for the pilot will be based on the approved budget and transferred in full to a local finance code. The Flexible Learning Programme will work with the pilot to identify the best local budget code and the relevant finance manager to agree the transfer. The benefits of this approach are maximised local area ownership and simplicity of administrative process. However, it does put more ones on the pilot team to report and forecast it financial spend accurately through the quarterly reporting approach. This is important for both agreeing any final payment or return of funds, managing the overall pilots fund and supporting an effective change authorisation approach.


Co-creation with students and stakeholders

The experiences of our learners and their unique perspectives are key to the success of flexible learning. Therefore, the Flexible Learning Programme is keen to collaborate with students on all aspects of our strategy, and we particularly welcome student-led or student partnership pilots. We also invite pilots that have a civic or social impact element and encourage engagement with local or regional stakeholders beyond the University.

All internal and external stakeholders should be identified and documented as early as possible as part of the outline proposal and confirmed in the full proposal.

Risk Appetite and Management

The Flexible Learning Programme encourages and supports innovation and as such we welcome pilots which explore the ‘unknown’. It is a fundamental principle of the programme that we fund pilots that push the boundaries and explore new approaches. It is essential that we capture evaluation, lessons and learnings, regardless out outcome. Pilots are an opportunity to try out new things, meaning that there will be some risk of failure. To help minimise and acknowledge risk, we will require all projects to undertake a form of risk analysis as part of the detailed pilot plan.

Support and Collaboration

A dedicated Microsoft Teams space is available for all pilots to share experiences, resources, update on progress and reach out for support. This community of practice will facilitate discussion and collaboration, as well as sharing experiences and supporting each other. Each pilot will have its own private channel to work in, alongside a general channel where all pilots can communicate in a shared space.

Pilot Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning

This section outlines the objectives of the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) approach, the governance structure for pilots and resources to support their MEL, the review and reporting processes, and the thematic element of the MEL framework. The Flexible Learning Programme’s aim is to support accountability, transparency, and continuous learning throughout the pilot lifecycle whilst providing critical friendship and support to pilot teams.


Pilot monitoring will be quarterly that gives the right balance between assurance and local owner of the pilot. Quarterly Reports will focus on short updates and risk-based reporting to allow any corrective action to be identified and managed. The majority of the reporting will be done as part of the pilot completion report which also included the evaluation and lessons learned.

Report Type

Report Requirement


  • Financial and non-financial (see finance section for financial requirements).

The report should include spend and a summary of key activity in that Quarter. A short report with a Red, Amber and Green (RAG) rating (against the categories of Resources, Time, Scope & Quality) to help the Flexible Learning Programme identify if support is needed.


Pilot Completion Report

  • Financial, non-financial, lessons and evaluation.

The pilot completion report establishes a record of pilot achievements against the pilot’s original outcome and outputs as stated in the pilot full proposal. These reports help assess impact, in addition to drawing out conclusions and lessons learned. The pilot completion report is an assessment at the end of a funding period to compare the baseline conditions and assess change.

We ask that all pilots structure their narrative report in line with the evaluation framework described below. Please also include any lessons learned on policy, systems, procedures, capacity, and support gaps that have either been enablers or inhibitors to your pilot.



The Flexible Learning Programme Evaluation Framework is designed to be able to cover different types of pilots, in addition to organising their assessment into themes that will allow us to group theme reports in a rational and usable way.

Focus of Evaluation

Evaluation question


  • Has the pilot topic and its activities met the information/experience needs of the intended stakeholder groups? To what extent are the completed pilot outcomes still in line with the needs and priorities of the Flexible Learning Programme? 


  • To what extent did the methods/approaches used in this pilot lead to improvements in efficiency (financial/staffing/resourcing etc)? What other approaches could be considered in light of the pilot - would these be more or less efficient? 


  • To what extent did the methods/approaches used in this pilot lead to improvements in effectiveness (learning/outcomes/experience/flexibility, etc)? What other approaches could be considered in light of the pilot - would these be more or less effective? 


  • To what extent was the pilot able to meet/exceed its objectives? To what extent has the pilot led to improved outcomes or behaviours in the stakeholder groups? Were there any other unintended positive or negative outcomes from the pilot? 


  • To what extent has the pilot identified the potential for its activity to lead to the long-term behaviour/operational change? What would need to happen to make these changes happen? 


As a starting point, we have included the below as prompts to support MEL development:

  • Surveys: For students and faculty to provide feedback.
  • Focus group discussions: With faculty and students to get in-depth insights.
  • Course analytics: Using learning management systems to track engagement, grades, and other relevant metrics.
  • Case studies: Detailed analysis of particularly successful or unsuccessful courses.




As stated in the objectives, Flexible Learning Programme has a high risk appetite as it has focus on lesson learning and identification of the enablers and inhibitors factors when it comes to developing new ways of delivering learning.  Flexible Learning Programme has developed an After Action Review guidance to help lesson identification. We ask all pilots to complete an after-action review for inclusion in the pilots completion report.