May 30, 2024


International Student Club UK

ESFA Update further education: 17 March 2021

2. Action: the coronavirus (COVID-19) workforce fund for schools and colleges online form is now live

The coronavirus (COVID-19) workforce fund for schools and colleges online form went live on 10 March 2021. 

The deadline to submit your claim is 23:59 on 31 March 2021. 

We’ve published guidance to help you complete the form. 

3. Reminder: adult education budget (AEB) contracts for services expiring on 31 July 2021

Existing 2020 to 2021 ESFA funded adult education budget (AEB) contracts for services will expire on 31 July 2021. This expiration applies to contracts for services only and not grants, which do not expire.

In November 2019, we wrote to contract for services providers to confirm the details of these arrangements. Your contract will expire on 31 July 2021 and no further funding will be provided for any learners who have not completed their learning by this date.

For future funding opportunities you must be successful in one or both of the following two procurements opportunities:

  • In October 2020, we launched a procurement opportunity so providers can access funding to deliver 19 to 24 traineeships from 1 August 2021. The outcomes of this procurement opportunity have now been communicated.
  • The procurement application window for ESFA funded AEB contracts for services is now open. The procurement will provide funding for the delivery of adult education and training to learners in England that are resident outside of the devolved areas, including delivery of the National Skills Fund level 3 adult offer. Contracts will start on 1 August 2021. Full details including the specification and instructions to tender can be accessed via Jaggaer, the DfE e-Procurement Solution portal. The bidding window closes at 10:00 on 22 March 2021.

4. Information: webinar for independent training providers and adult community learning providers on home testing for staff and students

We are working with colleagues across government to develop a bespoke demand-led system for independent training providers (ITPs) and adult community learning providers (ACLPs), which will enable them to order home test kits for their staff and students. We expect that it will be available from the end of March.

We are hosting a webinar on Tuesday 23 March between 2pm and 4pm for ITPs and ACLPs to provide useful information and explain how home testing will work in these settings. The webinar can be accessed from this MS Teams meeting link. If you’re unable to join the webinar it will be recorded and available to watch shortly after.

5. Information: annual strategic conversations

Dame Mary Ney’s review of the financial oversight of colleges recommended a more pro-active relationship between government and colleges. Our published government response included an action to introduce annual ‘strategic conversations’ involving all colleges and sixth form colleges, and this has been reaffirmed in the recent White Paper “Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth.”

We will introduce annual strategic conversations involving all further education colleges (FEC), including specialist designated institutions (SDIs), land based colleges and sixth form colleges (SFC). Each meeting will be led and managed by ESFA, with an FE Commissioner representative. The aim will be to look holistically at the college’s strategy and plans and encourage colleges to showcase their achievements and raise any strategic issues or challenges. The meetings will include the principal, the college chair, other governors and other college senior leaders as appropriate.

This is not another form of intervention. This is to be a strategic conversation that rises above the normal day to day dialogue. It will focus on current and future plans that the college has, and provide us with an opportunity to hear directly from colleges about their successful initiatives, as well as discussing risks and challenges, and possible solutions.

We will start the first of these conversations in the summer term, from late April 2021.The first full cycle will be completed by May 2022. The meetings will be held either at colleges or virtually (dependent upon restrictions with the COVID-19 pandemic).

The content of the agenda will be jointly shaped with each college, and as the programme rolls out we will be in touch to agree a meeting date with each college and to agree the agenda.

6. Information: latest version of the apprenticeship funding rules 2020 to 2021

We have published version 4 of the ESFA apprenticeship funding rules 2020 to 2021.

The rules are being updated to reflect that from 25 February, eligible apprentices can start their end-point assessment before they achieve their functional skills qualifications if they have been waiting for the opportunity to access functional skills assessments but have been prevented from doing so due to coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

They should be read alongside the apprenticeship response to coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance as some of these flexibilities are continuing.

The changes we have made are detailed in the summary of changes which can be found on the apprenticeship funding rules page on GOV.UK.

7. Information: incentive payments for hiring a new apprentice

To support employers, incentive payments for apprentices taken on as new employees from 1 April are increasing.

Employers will receive £3,000 for new employees of any age who start their apprenticeship from 1 April 2021 to 30 September 2021.

You can view the details on GOV.UK.

8. Information: Advanced Learner Loans (ALL) funding rules for 2021 to 2022

We have published version 1 of the ALL funding rules for academic year 2021 to 2022. The rules apply to all providers of education and training who hold a loans agreement with the ESFA.

This document includes changes we have made since the 2020 to 2021 version 3 which we published in January 2021. These changes are set out in the summary of changes section at the end of the document.

We expect to publish the performance management in version 2 in late spring. If you have any queries on these rules, please contact us through our enquiry form.

9. Information: maximum loan amounts for 2021 to 2022

We have published the maximum loan amounts guide for academic year 2021 to 2022. This document confirms we have maintained the same maximum loan amounts for qualifications that we designated for loans in 2020 to 2021.

If you have any queries on these rules, please contact us through our enquiry form.

10. Information: qualification achievement rates for 2019 to 2020

We will publish high level national summaries of qualification achievement rates (QARs) for the 2019 to 2020 academic year on Thursday 25 March at 09:30. These will be available in the further education and skills, and apprenticeships and traineeships statistics publications for March 2021.

We previously confirmed 2019 to 2020 data will not be used by others such as Ofsted, local authorities or devolved authorities or within ESFA and DfE, to hold institutions to account. Therefore, we will not publish any QAR data at institution level for the 2019 to 2020 academic year. We will not supply 2019 to 2020 QARs for institutions to use internally themselves.

11. Information: post-16 monitoring requests for evidence and information

We have requested further information and evidence to support some reports and inform policy development through ESFA Information Exchange. Your organisation’s nominated contact will receive a notification that there is a letter to view; the request should be forwarded to colleagues responsible for maintaining learner records and submitting data to us.

The letters will indicate what we are reviewing, and will include a template identifying 15 learner records that we would like you to complete and return to us with the requested information or evidence by COP Wednesday 24 March 2021.

Territorial leads will contact some providers separately to correct ILR data quality issues which we identified through our analysis, but are not currently on our monitoring plan. Some of these indicate potential issues in the way some information is calculated and reported, while others are causing some reports to trigger incorrectly. Your territorial lead will confirm which learners this applies to and what action you need to take.

12. Information: National Skills Fund – level 3 adult offer

We have published funding approval information for qualifications in the National Skills Fund level 3 adult offer on the ESFA list of qualifications approved for funding website.

You can now view this alongside funding approval information for qualifications in other ESFA funded qualification offers. Providers can use the search function to view the qualifications in scope for this offer.

If you have a query about this, please use the ESFA enquiry form.

13. Information: extension to our free board review service provided by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF)

We have been able to extend the ETF board review service to July. This means that there is still time for colleges to receive a free board review, where they meet the criteria for a referral.

As highlighted in the FE and Skills White Paper, three yearly external board reviews will shortly become a requirement for FE college corporations, so now is a good time to consider it. The Further Education Commissioner teams, and ESFA’s Territorial teams will actively assess whether reviews would be helpful for colleges with whom they are in touch, and make a referral where appropriate, but colleges may also make their own case for a referral.

If you would like to seek a referral for your college, please email the policy team at [email protected] to explain the factors that should be taken into account as requests are prioritised. These factors might include: a recent self-assessment which indicates the need for a thorough review, a recent change in leadership, a period of structural change, or other new challenges which require the college to take stock.

14. Information: Taking Teaching Further – Round 4 now open

On 16 March, the Department for Education announced the opening of the fourth round of the Taking Teaching Further (TTF) programme, to help attract industry professionals to work in FE. The programme will support a further 550 industry professionals to become FE teachers by covering the costs of training and mentoring. The programme is open to all FE providers.

Further information on the TTF programme and how to apply can be found on the ETF website.

15. Information: Advanced Maths Support Programme continues until July 2022

Mathematics Education Innovation (MEI) is pleased to announce that the Department for Education has agreed to extend funding for the Advanced Maths Support Programme for a further 15 months, until 31 July 2022.

This means that the AMSP will continue to provide support for schools and colleges, increasing opportunities for students to achieve valuable qualifications in AS/A level mathematics, AS/A level further mathematics and core maths.

There is a great deal of work to do to enable students to recover the learning they have lost due to the pandemic. The AMSP will be offering six targeted support packages, in addition to the high quality support already on offer, to help this learning recovery. The packages will focus on:

  1. Motivating students’ interest and maintaining continuity of mathematical learning at Key Stage 4
  2. Supporting students’ transition to level 3 study
  3. AS/A level mathematics
  4. AS/A level further mathematics
  5. Core Maths
  6. Supporting students’ transition to degree study

Charlie Stripp, MEI’s Chief Executive and Director of the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) said:

The AMSP has been doing excellent work to support the teaching and learning of Key Stage 4 and post-16 mathematics throughout the COVID crisis. It’s great news that we can now be sure the AMSP will be in place to the end of next academic year.

The ability to understand and use maths is crucial for both individual and national success. We must do all we can to help young people whose education has been disrupted by the COVID crisis to recover the learning they have lost.