ESFA Update further education: 2 February 2023

1. Action: reminder to check your provisional Qualification Achievement Rates (QARs) (2021 to 2022) data

Please review your provisional data and inform us of any concerns about how we have implemented our published methodology by 5pm on Thursday 9 February 2023.

Provisional Qualification Achievement Rates dashboards were made available in View your education data on Thursday 12 January, with the QAR data download files being shared with you on Tuesday 17 January. There was an issue earlier this week when some providers were not able to access their provisional QAR data, but that has now been rectified. Apologies for any inconvenience.

Providers have identified an issue where some T Level provision (aims identified as program type 30 and 31) is appearing in their provisional data. We won’t be refreshing the provisional data as it impacts a very small number of aims, but this issue will be fixed and these exclusions will be applied correctly when the achievement rate data is published.

Further information and guidance on QARs is available on GOV.UK. If you have any specific QAR data queries, download and complete the query form at the bottom of the QAR guidance page, referencing the data from the data downloads. Submit the completed form via our inquiry page, selecting the QAR ‘query type’.

2. Information: new guides to help colleges with reclassification

In November 2022, the statutory FE sector in England was reclassified into the central government sector, meaning that colleges must now meet the overall requirements in HM Treasury’s document, ‘Managing Public Money’ and other related obligations.
We have published bite-size guides on the following topics to aid colleges in this transition:

  • special payments
  • Novel, contentious, and repercussive transactions
  • indemnities, letters of comfort and guarantees
  • write-offs
  • senior pay controls

College staff are strongly encouraged to read this guidance and must take any actions necessary resulting from the new arrangements.

Where approval for transactions is now required from the Department for Education (DfE) under these new arrangements, colleges should be aware that in some cases DfE will need to liaise with HM Treasury to secure approval and should therefore allow sufficient time for these necessary processes.

3. Information: the high needs place change inquiry window for 2023 to 2024 closes Friday 3 February

Local authorities and providers have until Friday 3 February 2023 to contact ESFA to query their place numbers for 2023 to 2024.

We have published the high needs place change request outcomes: 2023 to 2024 that will inform ESFA funded place numbers for the 2023 to 2024 academic year.

You should review the published outcomes to ensure the numbers reflect those expected. If your provider is not listed, this means no change was notified by your local authority and the published place numbers for 2022 to 2023 will be used as the basis of your allocation for 2023 to 2024.

You can find more information about the inquiry window in the high needs place change process guidance.

4. Information: changes to further education adult skills funding rates and funding for innovative provision

Following the consultation ‘Skills for jobs: Implementing a new further education funding and accountability system’, the Department for Education set out the details of 2 key changes to the funding of ESFA adult skills.

For the academic year:

  • 2023 to 2024 – new flexibility for funding innovative provision into the adult education budget (AEB) funded by the ESFA
  • 2024 to 2025 – new funding rates that will apply to the ESFA skills fund which will encompass the AEB

We published this ahead of a formal response to the consultation to give providers as much notice as possible of these changes and time to change their mix of provision to better meet skills needs and drive the economy. A formal response to the second consultation will be published in Spring 2023.

5. Information: Convert to an academy: guidance for Sixth Form Colleges

We have published an updated version of the guidance for Sixth Form Colleges considering becoming a 16 to 19 academy to include new guidance specifically for Sixth Form Colleges designated as having a religious character, now that regulations to enable them to convert and benefit from having a religious character as a 16 to 19 academy have come into force. Converting Sixth Form Colleges which are designated as having a religious character will need to liaise with their DfE academy delivery officer to:

  • apply for an order to designate the new 16 to 19 academy with a religious character
  • arrange for a separate order to be made, to enable them to lawfully give preference in admissions to those of a particular religion or belief

We have also taken this opportunity to make several additional minor updates to the guidance for all Sixth Form Colleges interested in becoming 16 to 19 academies, in order to maintain textual accuracy and consistency, and reference recently re-published guidance for Sixth Form College academy converters. with an Education and Skills funding contract.

6. Information: mid-year funding claim for 2022 to 2023

The mid-year funding claim window will open at 9am on Wednesday 8 February 2023.
Please submit your mid-year funding claim by 5pm on Monday 13 February 2023. The claim form will be available on submit learner data. The funding claims user guide is available to help you complete the form.

You will need to submit a claim if you receive funds through these contracts:

  • grant funded – ESFA funded adult education budget (AEB) (adult skills, community learning, 19 to 24 traineeships and national skills fund Level 3 adult offer (Level 3 Free Courses for Jobs))
  • grant funded – advanced learner loans bursary (ALLB)

Please be aware that 16 to 19 providers do not need to submit a mid-year claim.
Once you have submitted your mid-year funding claim on submit learner data, you will also be able to view it on Manage your education and skills funding.

If you have any queries, please use ESFA help center to contact us.

7. Information: exceptional in-year growth for 2022 to 2023 for 16 to 19 education

Each year (subject to affordability) we award in-year growth funding to those grant-funded institutions which have recruited significantly more students than we allocated. There are some important changes this year to the methodology from the one used in 2021 to 2022, we have:

  • not made an adjustment for under-delivery in the previous year
  • changed how we calculate the thresholds for element 2 for specialist post-16 institutions and centrally funded exceptions
  • removed the cap on bursary allocations introduced as part of the transitional arrangements in 2020 to 2021.

We have now published the details of the calculation for awarding exceptional in-year growth for 2022 to 2023. We will be informing institutions eligible for growth by mid-February and revised funding allocations will be available through Document Exchange. Eligible growth will be paid from the March payment run.

We are improving the way Community Learning provision is recorded on the ILR, to give us and the sector more useful data on its nature and purpose and learner’s outcomes.

From 2023 to 2024 we will stop collecting information on the four provision types (PCDL, FEML, WFL, NLDC), and will instead collect data on the primary purpose of the provision. The seven new purpose types are based on the current community learning objectives. We want to continue to identify family learning. A new field, ‘Adult Family Learning’, will capture this information.

We will also collect employment status of learners, information on whether fees are collected, and destination data. These will be optional for 2023/24.

Please refer to the 2023 to 24 ILR specification for more details. We are also working with the sector to develop new learning aims to replace the current Tier 2 Subject Sector Areas. New learning aims will better describe community learning and will be in place from 2023/24 AY.

Allocation calculation toolkits (ACT) confirming how we have used 2021 to 2022 data to calculate funding elements which will be used in the calculation of 2023 to 2024 16 to 19 revenue funding allocations for school and academy sixth forms have been made available on Document Exchange this week.

If you have any questions after reading our guidance, please contact us using our online inquiry form.

10. Information: The Department for Education is seeking views on future qualifications to support progression to T Levels

As part of the review of post-16 qualifications at level 2 and below, the Department intends to consider for funding level 2 qualifications designed to support progression to T levels; approved qualifications would be available for first teaching from 2026. These qualifications could be taken by young people as part of a broader T Level Transition Program (TLTP), or by adults outside of a TLTP. The Department is seeking views on how the national content it has developed for the TLTP should be used in developing these qualifications.

Full details about the proposals and how to provide feedback via the online questionnaire can be found online. The deadline for submitting responses is Thursday 6 April 2023. Information: National Standards development for Personal, Social and Employability qualifications (PSEQs).

In October 2022 DfE published the government response to the consultation on post 16 qualifications at level 2 and below. This confirmed that DfE would set national standards which Personal, Social and Employability qualifications (PSEQs) at level 1 and entry level would need to be designed against in the future. This will improve the quality of the offer and streamline the market.

Work is now underway to create these national standards. DfE has assembled panels made up of education experts, employers, and representatives of student groups to produce an informed draft of the standards. They will collaborate to agree the proposed content of the standards to ensure they meet the needs of students and employers.
This month sees the first meeting of the two expert panels (Independent Living and Employability) take place. Panel members will establish the starting point for standards development and expected outcomes.

Further public consultation will take place once the national standards have been developed.

If you would like more information, please email us at [email protected].

11. Information: National Apprenticeship Week 2023

There is only one more week to go until National Apprenticeship Week 2023.

Read the latest online newsletter to find out all about the week.

Keep up to date with National Apprenticeship Week 2023 by following Apprenticeships on Twitter and Apprenticeships on LinkedIn or sign up to our mailing list.

The DfE have procured Community Learning in Somerset via a contract for services for a number of years. This approach is out of step with the rest of England, where Community Learning funding is grant funded. Therefore, from academic year 2023 to 2024, DfE are proposing to revert to grant funding Somerset County Council, bringing funding provision for Somerset Community Learning in line with the rest of the country.

Community Learning plays a vital role within adult education budget (AEB) provision; of supporting those furthest from the workplace, and in improving the health and well-being of learners. It is an important stepping-stone for learners who are not ready for formal accredited learning, or who would benefit from learning in a more informal way.

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