Information for 16 to 19 providers delivering CDF industry placements for the 2022 to 2023 academic year.

Applies to England


The purpose of this information is to set out the arrangements for delivering industry placements through the CDF for those providers in receipt of a CDF allocation in the 2022 to 2023 academic year. All providers issued with a CDF allocation in the 2022 to 2023 academic year should read and become familiar with this guidance.

It is no longer possible to apply for this funding if you do not already have it. The opportunity to do so closed in December 2020.

As T Levels are rolled out, funding through CDF will reduce. The 2022 to 2023 academic year is the final year of funding for providers rated as ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’ by Ofsted. Those CDF-funded providers with an Ofsted rating of ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ will be able to access this funding in the 2023 to 2024 academic year, after which they will be able to deliver the full range of T Levels and CDF will no longer be required.

For the 2022 to 2023 academic year, the CDF funding rate has been reduced to £160 per qualifying student for both level 2 and level 3 students.

This guidance provides an overview of the requirements for delivering placements, completing the monitoring returns and recording industry placements.

Providers must comply with this guidance for CDF industry placements delivered in the 2022 to 2023 academic year. Failure to do so may result in the CDF allocation being removed. Additional links can be found in the background section of this guidance where there are supporting documentation and useful resources that providers may wish to refer to when planning and delivering CDF placements.


CDF is funding allocated to providers delivering vocational and technical classroom-based programmes for students aged 16, 17 or 18 on level 2 and level 3 programmes. The purpose of this funding is to build provider capacity and capability to deliver high quality T Level style industry placements for students undertaking vocational and technical programmes in readiness for delivering T Levels in the future.

These are large placements that must be occupationally specific and focused on developing the practical and technical skills required for the profession or trade the student is studying towards. Building these industry placements requires a significant investment of time and resource in building employer links, developing processes and procedures, preparing students for the workplace, and delivering and monitoring the industry placement experience.

Further details on the core industry placement principles providers of CDF have to follow, industry placement delivery guidance, a student guide and other guidance resources and video and paper-based case studies are available to support providers with their planning and delivery.

Policy and funding priorities from the 2022 to 2023 academic year

Policy updates that were introduced for the delivery of CDF from the 2020 to 2021 academic year also apply for the 2021 to 2022 and 2022 to 2023 academic year. These include:

  • the ability to deliver CDF industry placements over 2 academic years where a student is on a 2-year qualifying programme
  • a minimum target of delivering a placement for 25% of total qualifying students
  • a requirement to prioritise delivery of level 3 placements rather than level 2 industry placements

As T Level delivery is being scaled up, we are keen to ensure that T Level industry placements and CDF industry placements are not competing in the engagement of employers for industry placements. To support a smooth transition to T Level delivery, the following changes were introduced for CDF from the 2021 to 2022 academic year.

  • we will require providers to prioritise the development of level 3 industry placements by delivering a larger proportion of level 3 placements than level 2 placements within their overall 25% target. This reflects the fact that T Levels are level 3 programmes requiring industry placements at the appropriate level
  • in the 2022 to 2023 academic year, the funding rate will be reduced to £160 per qualifying student for your level 2 and level 3 students
  • in the 2023 to 2024 academic year, access to CDF funding will be limited to those providers with an Ofsted ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ grade as they will not be able to deliver the full range of T Levels until the following year
  • CDF funding will no longer be available after the 2023 to 2024 academic year

Industry placements need to include genuine and meaningful on-the-job experience where the student is able to experience the full range of realities of working, such as timekeeping, commuting and interacting with colleagues’ face to face. Industry placements must be undertaken in a physical workplace environment and therefore industry placements cannot be delivered remotely or virtually.

The expectation is that all industry placements should commence in the first year of a student’s study programme where they are on a 2-year programme (and during the CDF funded year), with a minimum of 50% of a provider’s industry placements being successfully completed by the end of the first academic year. The remainder of industry placements would need to be successfully completed by the end of the second academic year. Those industry placements that span over 2 academic years can only count towards the minimum delivery target set in the academic year when the industry placement started and was funded.

Funding calculations based on qualifying students

CDF allocations made for the 2022 to 2023 academic year will be calculated based on the number of qualifying students enrolled on a level 2 or level 3 vocational and technical qualification (VTQ) with each provider in the 2020 to 2021 academic year. As a requirement for this funding, providers are required to deliver industry placements to their funded students on the sector subject area (SSA) relevant to future T Levels. The relevant percentage targets for placement delivery are calculated based on the total number of qualifying students. An allocation will be made to all existing CDF-funded providers unless they opt out prior to the allocations date in March 2022.

General vocational qualification types at Levels 2 and 3 included in identification of qualifying students

The qualification types included in identifying qualifying students are listed below:

  • Advanced Diploma

  • Associate Diploma

  • Award

  • Certificate

  • Certificate of Competence

  • Diploma

  • Diploma (14 to 19)

  • Edexcel First Diploma (new syllabus)

  • Edexcel First Extended Certificate (2012 onwards)

  • Edexcel National Award

  • Edexcel National Certificate (new syllabus)

  • Edexcel National Diploma (new syllabus)

  • First Certificate

  • Introductory Certificate

  • National Certificate

  • National Diploma

  • National Extended Diploma

  • National Vocational Qualifications

  • Principal Learning within Diploma (14 to 19)

  • Professional Diploma

To calculate a provider’s minimum delivery target, we will:

  • take the number of students enrolled on qualifying programmes (see above) in the 2020 to 2021 academic year to give us your total qualifying students at level 2 and level 3
  • apply the minimum delivery target of 25% to both the level 2 and level 3 qualifying students to provide a total minimum industry placement delivery target, split by level 2 and level 3
  • prioritise level 3 industry placements: the ratio of the level 3 against the level 2 minimum delivery target is uplifted by 25% to provide us with a revised split at level 2 and level 3 with a total minimum delivery target of 25% of qualifying students

For example, where a provider has 1,000 qualifying students (number of level 2 students is 600 and the number of level 3 students is 400).

  • providers will need to deliver placements to 25% of their qualifying students, so 250 industry placements
  • without the 25% uplift the minimum delivery of placements for level 3 students would be 400 x 25% = 100
  • the minimum delivery of placements for level 3 students including the 25% uplift for level 3 is 100 x 1.25 = 125
  • the overall minimum delivery target remains at 250 therefore the minimum delivery of placements for level 2 students becomes 125

To calculate a provider’s CDF allocation, we:

  • will multiply the funding value of £160 by the total volume of level 2 and level 3 qualifying students to give us the funding allocation
  • and where a provider delivers both CDF and T Levels, we will reduce the number of CDF qualifying students by the number of planned T Level student starts for that academic year before calculating the funding

ESFA will not apply a minimum allocation for CDF for the 2022 to 2023 academic year, as was the case in earlier years. CDF allocations are simply based on the number of qualifying students enrolled with each provider in the 2020 to 2021 academic year.

The CDF is provided to support the delivery of successful industry placements and is subject to 3 specific required deliverables:

  • capacity building to improve the infrastructure to deliver high quality substantial industry placements
  • development of relationships with employers to enable the sourcing of suitable industry placements
  • 25% of a provider’s qualifying students should complete an industry placement

We are not being prescriptive on how the funding is used to build capacity, so long as it is used for the purpose intended, which is to support the delivery of substantial industry placements within current and future T Level routes and represents good value for money. This funding must not be used to deliver placements within a T Level programme or displace other funding.

Providers should be clear that receiving CDF funding does not imply future eligibility to deliver or receive funding for the development or delivery of T Levels.

Budgets to support CDF industry placement delivery from the 2022 to 2023 academic year are not guaranteed and are subject to the government spending review which is expected to be confirmed later this autumn.

Qualifications that count towards the CDF target for the 2022 to 2023 academic year onwards

From the 2020 to 2021 academic year, we narrowed the focus of CDF delivery to ensure that CDF would facilitate sufficient capacity building for industry placements across relevant programme areas as we roll out T Levels. Providers were therefore expected to arrange industry placements for students studying qualifications relevant to T Level areas only as part of their 25% minimum delivery target. This will be the case for the remaining phase of CDF, so applies to this academic year too.

Sector subject areas for general vocational qualifications

Qualifying students on qualifications from the Sector Subject Areas below will count towards the minimum delivery target:

01.1 Medicine and Dentistry

01.2 Nursing and subjects and vocations allied to medicine

01.3 Health and social care

01.5 Child development and well-being

02.1 Science

03.1 Agriculture

03.2 Horticulture and forestry

03.3 Animal care and veterinary science

03.4 Environmental conservation

04.1 Engineering

04.2 Manufacturing technologies

05.2 Building and construction

06.1 ICT practitioners

07.3 Service enterprises

07.4 Hospitality and catering

09.2 Crafts, creative arts, and design

09.3 Media and communication

09.4 Publishing and information services

15.1 Accounting and finance

15.2 Administration

15.3 Business management

15.5 Law and legal services

These are the applied general qualifications (AGQs) that fall within the sector subject areas which, while they are excluded for the purposes of identifying qualifying students, can be counted towards the 25% delivery target. These are all at level 3.

Applied general qualifications that fall within the sector subject areas

ODS, 6.5KB

This file is in an OpenDocument format

How to determine if a qualification counts towards the delivery target

To determine if a learning aim or qualification undertaken counts towards the 25% delivery target, providers can refer to the Learning Aims Reference Service (LARS). By searching for the learning aim or qualification within LARS, a provider will be able to confirm the sector subject area (SSA) the learning aim or qualification is attributed to. Providers can then compare that to the list of SSAs included within this CDF guidance to ensure the learning aim or qualification can be counted towards the CDF target.

The SSAs listed in the guidance include all the general vocational qualifications at both level 2 and level 3 and the AGQs at level 3 that count towards the CDF delivery targets.

2022 to 2023 academic year monitoring return requirements

Monitoring returns are mandatory and must be submitted as a condition of receiving a CDF allocation. Monitoring returns provide us with information on the progress being made in building capacity and capability to deliver high quality industry placements as we scale up the delivery of T Levels. They also provide assurance that the funding is being used for the purpose intended.

Monitoring returns for the 2022 to 2023 academic year are required twice a year by the following dates:

  • for Friday 2 December 2022 we will ask for evidence on how funding was spent for the 2021 to 2022 academic year as well as plans for the 2022 to 2023 academic year
  • for Friday 9 June 2023 we will ask for information about progress and challenges faced with placement delivery in the 2022 to 2023 academic year

Your CDF allocation may be at risk should you fail to demonstrate that you have continued to source, develop, and deliver industry placements and prepare students for the workplace and have used CDF for the purpose intended. Your CDF allocation may also be at risk if you fail to submit monitoring returns as this would be a breach of the funding agreement.

Any misuse of your CDF allocation will result in recovery of funds.

We will send a link to the monitoring return form and guidance on how to complete this to all providers with a CDF allocation – usually 6 weeks ahead of the published return date.

Monitoring returns will provide the opportunity to opt in or out of CDF delivery for the following academic year. By “opting out” through the monitoring return, you will be indicating that you do not wish to receive an allocation for CDF delivery in future years. Once you have opted out, there will be no further opportunities to access CDF.

DfE Sign-in account and access to the monitoring returns

To access the monitoring return, you must sign into your DfE Sign-in account. We strongly advise you to check that your DfE Sign-in details are valid and that you have the appropriate permissions to access DfE Sign-in in advance of the deadline of the first monitoring return due by 2 December 2022

If you do not currently have an account, then you will need to create a DfE Sign-in account. Once you have an account, then the service ‘Online Collection Service’ and role ‘Industry Placements CDF Monitoring’ will need to be added to your account by a DfE Sign-in Approver at your organisation. Once you have access to the monitoring return, go to the DfE Sign-in page and enter your email address and password. This will take you to the Services page where you will need to choose ‘Industry Placements CDF Monitoring’.

Once you have access to the DfE Sign-in account, you will then be directed to the relevant monitoring return. Open the monitoring return and complete the relevant sections. There is a save and return function if you would like to revisit your responses before you submit. Once you have answered the questions in the monitoring return, please submit your responses. You will then be sent an email confirmation with a pdf attachment containing your monitoring return responses. You can view your responses at any time by logging on to your DfE Sign-in account.

Recording substantial industry placements and how this data will be used

To continue receiving a CDF allocation, it is a requirement that you record all industry placements fully in the individualised learner record (ILR) or school census at each data return point. Providers have been notified of the minimum number of industry placements they must deliver for students on either level 2 or level 3 programmes in the 2022 to 2023 academic year. Only qualifications in the relevant SSAs or from the eligible AGQ list will count towards the target. We will be reviewing the data to confirm that the number of placements providers have recorded in the ILR, or school census matches the data provided in monitoring returns. Providers must ensure that each industry placement is recorded correctly, showing the start and end date and the number of planned hours.

The learning aim reference number for recording CDF industry placements on the ILR and the school census is ZWRKX002.

CDF industry placements must take place on top of the existing study programme hours as CDF funding is allocated in addition to mainstream funding for qualifying students. Therefore, industry placement hours must not be included in the planned hours recorded for the study programme.

It is also important to note that, where hours are currently spent on work experience that is an existing and compulsory part of the qualification hours in a study programme, these work experience hours cannot be counted towards the industry placement hours delivered through CDF, because providers are already being funded for these through mainstream study programmes funding. For the industry placement to be counted, students would need to do the required industry placement hours (minimum of 315) on top of the hours of work experience that are recorded as planned ‘qualification hours’ on the ILR and school census.

Providers that have been selected to deliver T Levels from the 2022 to 2023 academic year must deliver an industry placement for each student, but these cannot be counted as part of the CDF target as they are funded through the T Level funding. T Level industry placements must be recorded using the learning aim reference number ZWRKX003. This learning aim reference is specifically for T Level industry placement activity and that code must not be used for CDF industry placements. The guidance for how T Levels will be funded can be found on GOV.UK.

Supporting students financially

Providers engaged in industry placement delivery are also encouraged to ensure their bursary policies are able to respond to the needs of students undertaking industry placements. A few students may find themselves facing financial difficulties due to incurring extra participation costs, for example, because they need to pay for additional travel to their placement. These students may only need support for a short period of time.

Bursary fund policies must clearly set out what type of help the institution offers, for example, help with transport, books and equipment, field trips and other course-related costs and whether bursary support is available to contribute to the costs of attending industry placements. Providers delivering industry placements should enable students to apply for help from the bursary fund at any point during the year.

Further information relating to supporting students financially can be found on GOV.UK.

Annual funding agreements/contracts for services with providers

Clauses in our annual funding agreements/contracts for services with providers, include conditions relating to CDF funding:

  • where a provider does not meet the minimum number of industry placements, ESFA may seek to recover funds, and/or may take this into consideration when considering future CDF allocations
  • where a provider is assessed to be financial health inadequate, or there are significant quality of delivery concerns, ESFA may withhold any remaining profiled allocations, and may take such assessments into consideration when considering future CDF allocations
  • where the provider does not submit the monitoring returns by the dates published, ESFA may halt the 2022 to 2023 academic year CDF allocation and recover any funding paid

These clauses may vary by provider type; therefore, providers should review these new clauses in their Funding Agreement/Contract.

ESFA enquiries

If you require further information regarding CDF please contact ESFA Enquiry Service.

Key dates for providers delivering industry placements in the 2022 to 2023 academic year

Activity Date
ESFA issues CDF allocations for the 2022 to 2023 academic year (as part of main 16-19 funding allocation) March 2022
Deadline for first monitoring return December 2022 2 December 2022
ESFA provides feedback to providers regarding the first monitoring return for December 2021 February 2023
ESFA issues CDF allocations for the 2023 to 2024 academic year (as part of main 16-19 funding allocation) March 2023
Deadline for submitting second monitoring return for June 2022 9 June 2023

Published 20 October 2021 Contents