Main section

This page outlines the criteria to be used for assessment of The National Archives’ Skills Bursaries. It is written to assist applicants and panel members, when writing and scoring proposals.

The aim of the Skills Bursaries Programme is to build the skills which the archives sector needs for the future, including in digital, environmental sustainability, and diversity, equity and inclusion.

It is assessed on the following three criteria:

  1. Need
  2. Impact
  3. Knowledge Sharing

Each application will be scored numerically by each panellist, against each of the criteria above, according to the following scale:

Score  Rating 
1  Poor 
2  Low 
3  Good 
4  Excellent 
5  Outstanding 

Further information on each criterion is given below. This information is not intended to be exhaustive: an outstanding answer may not cover all of the points mentioned, and/or may cover other points as appropriate to the applicant and their project.

However, the information below should assist applicants in writing successful proposals, and will be provided to each panellist to guide their assessment.

1. Need

Tell us why your project is needed, and why it is needed now.

You might want to tell us about a particular problem or challenge which you are seeking to address. This might be (for Records at Risk Grants), an immediate issue, such as a physical or organisational threat to a collection: what is the collection’s condition, and is it at risk from mould, pests, damage or obsolescence? What is its environment, for physical or digital storage? Is the organisation holding the collection at risk, from closure or liquidation?

Or it may be a longer-term problem, such as a longer-term issue with your collection or archive service, which can only be addressed by an investment in skills, outside expertise, equipment or staff time. Have you identified (for Skills Bursaries) a particular skills gap, such as in digital transformation, environmental sustainability, or equity, diversity and inclusion – or (for Resilience Grants), a weaker area on the Archives Service Resilience Indicator?

You may also want to capitalise on particular opportunities: whether there are local strategies or wider initiatives which make the project timely, or whether there is other funding or partnerships which are immediately available. What will happen if you do not get a grant from us?

It’s important to outline why the grant provides a solution or partial solution to the challenge, and why it is important for the investment to occur now. It may be helpful to include evidence supporting this answer: for example, you could include photographs or supporting letters.

Every archive service will have different needs, both short-term and long-term: use this response to tell us what they are.

2. Impact

We define impact as “the demonstrable contribution that a project makes.” Tell us why your project is going to change things: for you, for your archive service, for your users and audiences, for the archives sector, or for society. We want to understand what difference your proposal will make, and what change will result from the project, and for whom.

Ask yourself ‘what will happen?’ What are the short-term, medium-term and long-term changes that the project will bring about, and who will be affected? Is the change physical (new resources, materials or capital), procedural, or cultural?

Impact should scale according to the size of the grant being provided: for smaller grants, impact may be personal (new skills or learning), or institutional (such as improved ways of working within your archive service). For larger grants, strong applications will evidence impact beyond their own organisation. Please read the question carefully, to ensure that you are focusing your answer on the relevant areas of focus.

It is also important to consider the impact that your project will have on users of your archive. The users of archives can be diverse, with audiences having different motivations and needs from your service. You are best placed to understand who your audiences are, and who they could be: it might be helpful to explain the change you want to bring about, in how existing users interact with your service and collections, and/or in how you reach new audiences.

You may wish to outline how you intend to engage with audiences outside of your institution: do you have plans or partnerships in place, to engage with (for example) your local community, researchers, schools or higher education?

It is important to consider how the grant will have an impact beyond its own duration, and create a sustainable legacy of change: is this project part of a longer-term strategic plan, and how does it align with other activities or the future direction of the organisation?

Impact can take many different forms, and every project will have a different response: but a strong answer will always clearly outline what outcomes it is seeking to create, and how it plans to engage with beneficiaries and audiences, inside and outside of the archive service which is applying.

3. Knowledge Sharing

The National Archives has a leadership role for supporting the archive sector in England and across the UK, and often, we do this by knowledge sharing. Knowledge sharing refers to the ways in which understanding, experiences and learning and resources generated by our grant programmes are disseminated.

There are many more archives in the sector than we can provide funding to: therefore, we would like to understand, as part of your proposal, how you intend to disseminate the knowledge generated, both internally to your organisation and externally to your audiences and the wider archives sector.

There are numerous ways to share knowledge, which can be formal and informal. If your project is going to generate materials, such as guidance papers, toolkits or research publications, you may want to consider who the audiences are, what opportunities there are to share the materials, and how you can amplify their impact. You may wish to present at academic conferences, events or workshops. There are also more informal knowledge sharing activities, such as social media. Video or visual content may make your dissemination more accessible.

Networks are an important way of sharing knowledge and outputs: you will score highly on this question if you want to work with others, to collaborate on shared challenges or share results. There are many opportunities to form or participate in networks of common practice, and use these as a means to share learnings.

The National Archives will also offer opportunities for knowledge sharing, through learning outcome reporting, and events such as webinars. Please focus your response on activities delivered in addition to the standard grant requirements.