How should my college submit IRL data?

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This topic contains 12 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  GaynorLF 9 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • Alice Birchmore

    Hi, I’m the administrator at a small college. We’re only just qualified for funding so we’ve never had to submit IRL data before. I’m also only a month into my job!

    My managers have asked me to investigate different MiSystems and to try and find one that will allow us to submit the data.

    So far I’ve looked into systems such as Arbor, which is perfect for us but doesn’t offer anything to help with IRLs. Arbor said that a lot of their users use ‘Pic LMS’ to do this.

    Also looked into Maytas, which isn’t as well suited to us as Arbor but they’ve said that they have a data management branch whose services we could employ just for the IRL, instead of the full Maytas system. One of these options is outsourcing it completely but I suspect that’s going to be expensive!

    Basically, I’m wondering how easy it is to submit the IRL data manually? We only have around 60 students. I would really like someone who has had experience of this give some advice. I don’t want to recommend that the college spend funds on software for the ILR uploads that we don’t actually need.

    Also I am the only administrator so as things stand at the moment I would be sorting out the IRL upload on my own.

    I hope this all makes sense, thank you!




    what do you deliver?



    Hi Alice

    Welcome to the wonderful world of data!

    ESFA have a piece of software called the ILR Learner Entry Tool designed for small providers to produce ILRs. You can download it from the Hub here:

    at the bottom of the right hand column.

    Confusingly, the user guide for it is here:

    rather than bundled into the zip file for some reason (although the Provider Support Manual on that page is also very useful).

    You might also find this article I wrote last week of use:


    Paul Dallaway

    I think your best (and cheapest) bet for 60 learners would be to use the 17/18 ILR Learner Entry Tool provided by the ESFA.

    It’s free, it works and the link is at the bottom right hand side of the Hub homepage:

    It’s manual data entry but you can export an XML ILR file and run it through the FIS to validate.


    Paul Dallaway

    Stephen – you beat me to it!



    Hi Alice et al

    We are doing the same thing with the ILR tool. We have uploaded our learners and they are coloured ‘green’ so assume all information required has been input into the ILR.

    However, how do we then submit the ILR through to the Data Returns section?

    Many thanks



    Alice Birchmore


    Thanks for that everyone. Does the ILR Learner Entry Tool work with Mac computers? And do you need to create an account to download it?

    Also, how do I create an XML ILR file? Not sure what FIS is? Sorry!



    Paul Dallaway

    Hi – the guidance only has Windows:

    ILR Learner Entry Operating System compatibility
    ILR Learner Entry will work with the following Windows operating systems
    • Windows XP
    • Microsoft Vista
    • Microsoft Windows 7
    • Microsoft Windows 8
    • Microsoft Windows 8.1
    • Microsoft Windows 10
    ILR Learner Entry will operate in either a 32 bit or 64 bit environment.

    Once you’ve manually inputted the learners and learning delivery there’s an XML export from the ILRLearnerEntry.

    The FIS is other ESFA software that validates your ILR file and produces reports – you’ll need to look at the documentation on the FIS download page (the link is in the same place as the ILRLearnerEntry software). You can also look at the Provider Support Manual and the ILR Specification for more info.




    There’s a button on the front page of the LET that says Export Data that, I assume, produces the XML file which you can then manually upload to the Hub. NB just because it is green doesn’t mean it’s valid, just that there are values entered. These may not be valid values and, more importantly, there will be cross-field validations that definitely don’t happen in the Learner Entry Tool.


    According to the user guide in the link I posted above it needs a windows environment to operate in, but you don’t need an account to download it. Once you’ve put data into the Learner Entry Tool, you can export it as an XML file.

    FIS (Funding Information System) is a validation tool that takes your XML file and validates it according to the funding rules. Larger providers use this before uploading to the Hub (or in the periods where the Hub is not available) to make sure their data remains valid.

    Nothing personal I assure you, but I’m very worried by a number of people posting questions like this. New providers need to realise that they will be absolutely clobbered by ESFA auditors if they make a mess of their first few uploads, it really is a key part of being a directly-funded provider and you don’t get second chances…

    (and, yes, it’s sort of in my interest to say these things, as a consultant, but I promise you I’d still be saying it if I still worked in a college)



    Hi Steve

    Many thanks for the feedback. I fully understand why you are concerned; as a new Provider I’m also really concerned and frustrated as to the lack of ‘training’ on the ILR system new Providers have had. I’ve been to all the ESFA Briefing Sessions and Surgeries available and the ‘information sharing/Induction’ has been more around ‘tell’, rather than ‘show/demonstrate’ what is required and how to populate/save the ILR data. Having been a CMI approved centre for 10+ years (and I have been involved in people/organisation development for c. 30 years), we have the knowledge and understanding as to how to deliver/assess/evaluate a development programme that generates business impact for the individual and the organisation, but our real weakness/development need is how to successfully operate the ILR process in the hope of getting it right first time!

    I really value your feedback and that of others on this site and as a new Provider would be open to someone acting as paid ‘coach’ to ensure we are fully compliant and understand how to navigate the ILR process of data returns.

    Many thanks in advance of your thoughts?


    Alice Birchmore

    Thank you again. I haven’t attended any briefings or had any training whatsoever so I’m completely in the dark.
    I’ve found that clear information for someone who it a complete beginner is really difficult to find. Posting on here was my last resort!



    Hi Alice,

    Everyone here knows what it’s like to be a beginner and what the level of centrally provided information is like! Don’t worry about asking anything 🙂

    Regarding ESFA software and macs, I’ve worked at providers that were almost totally mac-based but we had to have PCs for all the statutory work. We found that some of websites simply don’t work on Safari and the helpdesk advised that they expect everyone to be working on a PC and don’t offer any support for problems encountered if you try using a mac.




    Not sure if this will help but..

    We are a small ITP with between 100-150 learners at any given time.

    We use PICS by Pellcomp for our data management and ILR data and submissions. It works extremely well for us personally and Pellcomp usually offer various training opportunities throughout the year. I find their helpdesk is always happy to help with the most basic of questions. Not being very IT savvy myself I find PICS an invaluable asset for ILR data and submission (along with many other attributes).

    As I say, this is solely my own personal opinion and I am aware there are other MIS providers out there.

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