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Further update from our Account Manager – “we are working on a permanent fix this month and a contract variation will follow. Basically we will increase the allocation to match the actual delivery so that automatic payments are generated rather than doing the manual payments.”
I suspect with the numerous ongoing contracts, rules & systems issues, alongside the vast number of new providers, the ESFA probably don’t have the resource to prioritise everything that needs fixing.
I’ve had confirmation from our Account Manager that “the capping is being released through a manual payment to be made in the next few days. There will be a second payment run this month that will include these capping amounts. The payment run will be on 19th April and should reach bank accounts a few days later.”.
In the “Evidence Requirements” section of the funding rules it specifies the following requirement:
243.11 a copy of the apprenticeship agreement or confirmation that the employer
has been told about their legal duty for an apprenticeship agreement
Thanks Ruth, I appreciate your input – the lack of anything else backing me up had me doubting myself.
I would have expected an equivalent to appear in the loans funding rules given that not all providers with a loans contract have an EFA contract. Hopefully they get the guidance sorted for next publication.
I agree entirely, and that is my stance, however there doesn’t appear to be anywhere in the funding rules, service desk nor student loan company which supports that position – do you have any reference to the funding rules which supports it?
It’s a difficult position to put forward internally for learners who have been signed up and had loans approved, and then needing to cancel their loans and follow a separate set of funding rules which introduces additional requirements without being able to find a supporting paragraph for it.
It seems to pass validation at every stage (BIRST, PDSATs, ILR Validation, Funding Rules) which I suspect is going to cause people to fall foul of it.
Agree it’s a lot of hassle. I understand your point of view re the content, it could be considered as part of OTJ on that basis. It does cause me concern re quality no matter which approach a provider takes (it’d be a difficult conversation as a lead telling the employer they aren’t teaching it well enough!).
Thanks for your input.
Should you be paying them as a subcontractor for it, and paying them as per the actual costs? Then carrying out appropriate support and monitoring as their lead provider?
Rule P151 in the Apprenticeship Funding Rules implies employers can be delivery subcontractors, which seems appropriate in this instance?
My concern is for 12 month standards, you cannot reduce the duration (12 month minimum) nor the content (20% OTJ), therefore you’d need to add potentially unnecessary additional delivery into the standard if it wasn’t a subcontracted arrangement. I’d definitely reduce the price for learning that has already occurred though.
Would it be appropriate from a quality perspective to have unknown staff to the provider delivering a qualification and counting that toward the training? How would Ofsted perceive that?
Would this be classed as subcontracting rather than reducing the negotiated price, assuming they are delivering it at the same time you are the standard?
Otherwise, you’d not be able to count the employer delivery as part of your delivery e.g. toward OTJ training etc? Unless you’re planning on reducing the duration/content you deliver in line with it (which isn’t possible for 12 month standards). Then there’s the issues re quality control and so on.
Thanks for your feedback, I’ve also just received other confirmation that the addendum no longer applies. The changes back to the original rules don’t seem to be widely published, I wonder how many providers have missed this. Likely to be a very unwelcome surprise to those small providers who were denied the access to their own direct contract due to pro-rata.
I’ve now had the following response from ESFA, which confirms this lack of qualifying period does just apply to trailblazers.
Thanks for your input.
Thank you for your query.
The reason that the qualifying period in the technical specifications only refers to frameworks is because of the way in which trailblazer standards are funded. The principles behind a qualifying period are to ensure value for money and not to fund delivery where potentially very little training may have been delivered in this time.
Under the trailblazer pilot, there is no qualifying period for the apprenticeship; the only qualifying period in the trailblazer funding rules refers to English and maths learning aims.
In the pilot, a provider only earns funding when an employer pays a provider, and records this payment on the ILR. If an apprentice on the trailblazer pilot leaves early, it is likely that an employer will not pay for any delivery in this period, or will expect the provider to refund any payments already made, and this acts like a qualifying period. If the employer is willing to pay for any delivery in what would have been covered under the qualifying period under other programmes, then we will match and double that payment in the pilot. Because payments for English and maths learning aims are not linked to employer payments, we apply the conventional qualifying period to these aims.
We will exclude all trailblazer standards for QARs for 2016 to 2017 where the apprentice withdraws without a net employer contribution payment being recorded (i.e. any payments minus refunds); this will be consistent with excluding all non-funded apprenticeships.
Thank you for bringing this to our attention, we realise that this is not included in the technical specifications and we will include this into the exclusion criteria for version 2 of the technical specification.
Kind regards, Sally
Thanks for your thoughts on this. I agree providers need standardisation on the terminology use between standards & pre/post May starts & trailblazers.
I’ve had a response from my query to the ESFA which explained the minimum standards calculation for traineeships – rather unhelpful given the question I asked.
Again I’ll update if I get a more meaningful response.
Nothing back from ESFA as yet, however ProAchieve have responded stating they’ve had confirmation of such, I’ve pasted the response below.
You are correct, the funding qualifying period does not apply to apprenticeship standards. We released v15.0 on the 11th October and the ESFA released the technical specification on the 12th (frustratingly). We found the same thing as you and contacted the ESFA directly, asking for confirmation of the change which they provided, clarifying that the only parts of the programme that has a qualifying period are the English and maths components, which do not affect the way the entire programme is reported in the QAR.
We did consider taking down v15.0 and applying this change to the new version there and then, but by the time confirmation was received a large number of providers had already upgraded, and it was decided re-releasing v15.0 to accommodate the change would cause too much confusion.
We’re midway through the development of v15.1, planned for release at the end of the month (provided the ESFA have released the 16/17 hierarchy file by this point) that will implement this and other changes to the system for the QAR.
Thanks for the feedback.
I’ve raised it with ESFA and will let you know if/when I receive a response. My initial thoughts were that it must be a mistake, until I saw it referenced in two different places – that seems too coincidental.
That doesn’t cover standards delivered by trailblazers/FM81.