Avatar
Hello
Guest
Log In or Sign Up
ESFA Apprenticeship Audit: Common Errors and how to Avoid Them
December 10, 2019
0

A Tribal Group Blog by Carla Martinho

On 11th June 2019 the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) published the snappily titled “Common findings from funding assurance work on post-16 providers and institutions” guidance document. It summarises the findings from the agency’s annual programme of assurance visits (in other words, audits) of providers delivering:

ESFA apprenticeship audit: common errors and how to avoid them
  • 16 to 19 study programmes
  • apprenticeships
  • adult education budget (AEB)
  • Advanced Learner Loans

For apprenticeships, there were no real surprises contained in the guidance if you have been working closely with the sector since the reforms were implemented (or more accurately started).

Here’s a summary of the key findings relevant to apprenticeships and some tips for avoiding them to ensure a smooth and successful audit:

1. Recognition of prior learning

Some providers have failed to reduce the funding claimed for learners who have relevant prior learning. The ESFA has even introduced a new report in the Provider Data Self-Assessment Tool (PDSAT) to help providers understand where they may have failed to reduce the price – and to allow the Agency to monitor provider data on this too of course.

Top tip: If you aren’t checking your ILR data using the PDSAT every month, start now. And if all of your apprenticeships are charged at the same rate for all learners, then the likelihood is that you have an issue and need to review who should have their funding reduced because of prior learning or experience.

2. Ineligible costs

You can’t calculate how to reduce the funding for RPL if you don’t have a model of how the costs of the apprenticeship have been calculated in the first place using eligible costs only.

Top tip: Create a template for calculating the cost of every apprenticeship standard or framework you deliver and check this against the eligible costs in the funding rules. Use this baseline model of costing to justify your Total Negotiated Price (TNP) price and amend this baseline to evidence reduction of price tailored for each learner who has RPL.

3. Minimum duration

This is one of the easiest rules to comply with and yet according to the recent findings, it’s one of the most common – and potentially most costly – errors! If this condition is not met, the whole apprenticeship for that learner will be ineligible for funding.

Top tip: As well as checking that all your apprenticeships meet the minimum duration rules, double-check that reducing the content of the apprenticeship to account for RPL doesn’t take the length of the apprenticeship below the minimum duration.

4. Off-the-job training

This is another one essential for funding, and if this condition is not met, the whole apprenticeship for that learner is ineligible for funding.

Top tip: Like the top tip for eligible costs, create a template for modelling how off-the-job training will be delivered for every framework or standard during the given duration. Then tailor it for every apprentice who has the content reduced due to RPL. Evidence of actual off-the-job training needs to be recorded for every learner and needs to evidence that it matches the model.

Check that 20% off-the-job has actually been delivered before completion and/or end point assessment.

5. Commitment statement and apprenticeship agreement

The information recorded on the commitment statement must reconcile with the apprenticeship agreement and the ILR. The absence of this evidence may result in a funding error.

Top tip: This isn’t just an induction process – you may need to update all three documents with relevant changes in circumstances such as breaks in learning, changes of job title, pathway or standard.

6. Learning start, learner status, learning end dates

This one is as old as the hills and sounds very simple, yet so many providers get caught out by it. Basically, if you are claiming funding for a learner starting their apprenticeship, you need to have evidence that they have started learning – not just been enrolled, inducted or started a new job. You need evidence that they have to have started learning activity related to the content of their apprenticeship.

Once they have started, if an apprentice is noted on your ILR as in learning, you need to be able to evidence at audit that they are undertaking learning on an ongoing basis. Again, don’t assume that attendance at work or college is evidence of learning, unless you can prove that they were there doing learning activity which forms part of their apprenticeship.

If a learner takes a break in learning or they withdraw from their apprenticeship you must be able to evidence learning up to the withdrawal date. If you can’t then you should change the withdrawal date to correspond with the last piece of learning evidence you have, even if that means drawing down less funding. With work-based learning particularly it’s very easy to get caught out because learners often withdraw because of dismissal at the end of a lengthy disciplinary process during which the learner is not engaged with learning. In that circumstance the end date on the ILR should be the last date of learning taking place and not the last date of employment.

Top tip: Review your learner list every month to check that they really are all in learning. This is where an eportfolio really comes into its own as you have an audit trail of learning taking place.

7. Employment status

Having stated at the start there were no surprises, I wasn’t expecting employment status to crop up in the findings. It’s simple – an apprenticeship is work-based learning; if the learner isn’t in employment, then they aren’t an apprentice and you can’t draw down funding for their learning.

Top tip: Don’t get caught out by signing up learners before their contract start date and using that as their enrolment date and the ILR learning start date (see also 2 above). It may only be a difference of a few days but they aren’t employed according to the funding rules.

8. Payment of employer contributions and small employer waiver

For delivery to non-Levy employers you need to evidence that you have invoiced the 10% contribution. For any employers where you are charging above the maximum funding cap, you also need to show that you have invoiced them for this difference.

Top tip: Invest in a student management system with good functionality around financial records and invoicing. For employers with 49 or fewer employees, make sure that you have a signed declaration from them before you deliver any learning.

9. English and maths

All learners who complete their level 1 English or maths should be offered the opportunity to study at level 2.

Top tip: Build this into your level 1 completion process. Could you hand out a letter with the certificate? You don’t just need to do it – you need to be able to evidence that it’s being done which can be difficult if none of your learners go on to study at level 2. 

These are my top tips to help you build audit preparation into your everyday delivery – but as always, they aren’t a substitute for reading the full document.

IAG Online – Survey
April 15, 2019
0

As part of our ongoing efforts to bring you great content, and improve our service here on IAG Online, we have 5 simple questions we would like you to answer.

If you have 2 minutes please click on the button below and answer the questions.

Take the SurveyClick Here

 

Ofqual Blog: How to Talk to Your Students About Exam Anxiety
March 25, 2019
0

Authors: Tamsin McCaldin and Professor Kevin Woods

In this blog, we offer strategies which teachers might find useful to help reduce their students’ experiences of exam anxiety. While some examples might seem obvious, research reminds us that these approaches can be successful with students – many of whom will be encountering high stakes exams for the first time and may lack experience of dealing with these feelings.

Choose motivation strategies carefully

Teachers sometimes point out negative consequences in order to motivate distracted or disengaged students. They might say that if students do not concentrate, they will fail to achieve their target grades, or not get into the college or university they want. Read more

Ofsted Blog: What Ofsted Looks at When it Comes to Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance
March 21, 2019
0

Julie Ashton, senior Her Majesty’s inspector, and Nigel Bragg, Her Majesty’s inspector, explain why good-quality careers guidance should be available to helpOfstedyoung people make informed decisions, and outline what Ofsted looks at in inspections when it comes to careers education.

Not so long ago, the career decisions we made as teenagers set us on a path that lasted until we received our free bus pass. For many, the days when we had a job for life are now long gone, yet it’s fair to say that the career decisions we make as young adults are still important.

We can all agree that careers guidance matters. Schools and colleges have a vital role in preparing pupils and young people for life beyond education, and that is not just limited to exam grades. Read more

How to do Well In the New Ofsted
February 13, 2019
0

The following blog was posted

We invited Ofsted in to our school this week to support the pilot of the new framework, which will come into play in September. The framework is currently open for consultation, and you can find out more information here.

First up, I do need to give some context to this post. This is my own personal opinion and experience of the process. As a school and as a leadership team, we found the process to be a generally positive one, though one which was thorough and challenging. I am keen to emphasise, though, that follows is very much my own personal reflection, as AHT for Upper KS2 and the school’s Curriculum leader. It is also worth noting that is this was a two-day pilot inspection, the actual final framework may or may not differ from this experience.

I want to keep this as a brief and snappy post, so here we go.

We didn’t talk data; we really talked curriculum

Read more

Skills on the Move
November 5, 2018
0

The following blog was shared by DMH Associates. 

Migration has been at the centre of political debate across the OECD in recent years. Drawing on data from the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), this report provides new evidence on differences in migrants’ characteristics and contexts and considers how these relate to the skills migrants possess.

It also examines the relationship between migrants’ skills and their labour and non-labour market outcomes in host countries. Finally, it sheds new light on how migrants’ skills are developed, used and valued in host country labour markets and societies. Results and lessons gleaned from analysis highlight the way forward for future research on this topic.

The report represents an invaluable resource for policy makers across different sectors as they design and implement strategies aimed at promoting the long-term integration of foreign-born populations in the economic and social life of their countries. The analyses presented allow us to identify the skill composition of foreign-born populations, the labour market and broader social outcomes associated with such skills, and the factors that can promote skill acquisition and skill use. Read more

Employing People with Autism Spectrum Condition
September 18, 2018
0

Remploy’s Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant, Harry McPhillimy talks about supporting employees with Autism Spectrum Condition. Read his blog below.

Autism, Asperger Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder are all terms used to describe a particular neurodiverse spectrum of associated traits.

Remploy

The term Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC), better reflects the range of strengths and challenges associated with this. There is a saying that when you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism. There is such variation in how different people experience it. Nevertheless, we know it is associated with difficulties in social communication and interaction, restricted areas of interest, difficulty managing change and sensory sensitivities. It can encompass attention to detail, great subject knowledge and problem-solving skills.

However, medical knowledge is not necessary to support your employees with ASC. In fact, the most important information to know is how the individual is impacted at work to help them achieve their maximum capability and the support of a specialist advisor can be the key to enabling this.

Sometimes organisations find out they have recruited someone with ASC after they have been taken on. In fact, I have supported employees who had not even recognised their own ASC traits until their child had received that diagnosis and they realised they themselves shared many of those traits. This then helped to make sense of their previous struggles and gave them a model they could use for dealing with issues at work, and home. Read more