The new apprenticeship funding rules – 2020/21

The changes affect the entire apprenticeship journey – from initial assessment to gateway.

The new apprenticeship funding rules 2020/21

The ESFA (Education and Skills Funding Agency) introduced a new set of apprenticeship funding rules in 2020/21. These new rules impacted the entire learning journey – initial assessment, employer engagement, off-the-job training, on-programme learning and the gateway.

So what changed? And how did the changes affect providers?

End of frameworks

Apprentices already on frameworks can complete their course, but all new starts need to be on the new apprenticeship standards. This means you need to design your curriculum carefully and understand which learning objectives are covered in each module so you can create an individual learning plan (ILP) for each apprentice.

Apprenticeship agreement

The ESFA has issued an updated version of the apprenticeship agreement. You don’t have to use the new template, but your agreement must include all the new fields – like ‘the amount of time the apprentice will spend in off-the-job training’. It must be a separate document – not part of the commitment statement – and the training provider and employer must have a copy.

Off-the-job training guidelines

The ESFA has clarified what counts towards off-the-job training – new skills only.

Before you can plan off-the-job training for each apprentice, you need to find out their prior learning in the initial assessment. If an apprentice has already covered the KSBs and needs less than 20% off-the-job training, they’re not suitable for the apprenticeship. You need to make sure the apprentice has enough learning need.

The ESFA is really clear about this. If an apprentice completes their programme without meeting the 20% minimum requirement, it’s a funding error and a full funding risk.

Recording actual off-the-job hours

You now need to record and evidence the actual hours each apprentice spends completing off-the-job training. Actual hours should be recorded to the nearest hour on the ILR.

You still need to record the apprentice’s planned off-the-job hours. This means you’ll need a clear understanding of your curriculum and which objectives, or modules are completed off the job. You can then include or remove off-the-job activities from each apprentice’s learning plan depending on their prior learning.

Material variations to off-the-job hours

Even if you’ve recorded the apprentice’s prior learning and carefully planned off-the-job training around their learning needs, it may not go exactly as planned. This doesn’t matter – you just need to explain how material variations have impacted off-the-job training.

Common material variations include:

  • Covid-19 – home working could have significantly increased a learner’s off-the-job hours
  • Fast learner principle – some learners will learn skills and knowledge faster than others
  • Prior learning – some prior learning may have been missed in the initial assessment and impact on-programme delivery

You can record material variations in progress reviews. Just introduce a section that covers any significant differences between the planned and actual off-the-job hours.

If you get to the end of the programme and the planned hours and actual hours don’t align, you need to explain the material variations to the employer to make sure they’re happy. They’ll need to sign an updated commitment statement that summarises the variations.

These new funding rules place great significance on individualised planning and delivery based on prior learning. To comply with these new rules, providers need to understand their curriculum and what outcomes are met on and off the job. They also need to recognise prior learning properly in the initial assessment. When you know these things, you can plan your on-programme learning and off-the-job training for each apprentice effectively.

A good initial assessment system will set you up for the future.’ David Lockhart-Hawkins, apprenticeship consultant | SDN

To find out how you can use OneFile to recognise prior learning, plan your delivery and record actual off-the-job hours, book a demo with a member of our team.

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This article includes research and opinion sourced by OneFile at the time of publication. Things may have changed since then,
so this research is to be used at the reader's discretion. OneFile is not liable for any action taken based on this research.