From education to employment

Working with the ESFA as a provider


ESFA today (10 Nov) updated their information about getting ESFA funding to deliver adult education and apprenticeship training.

Register and bid for funding

To offer government funded education and skills training such as apprenticeships you must be listed on one of the ESFA’s registers. Depending on the type of training you want to provide you can apply to be on:

To register and bid for education and skills funding, you must have a UK Provider Registration Number (UKPRN) from the UK Register of Learning Providers (UKRLP). The UKPRN allows you to register on the ESFA e-tendering portal (Bravo) to bid for contracts.

ESFA will inform existing and aspiring providers when both registers are open for new applications through their weekly Update newsletter and in Bravo.

Signing agreements and contracts with the ESFA

If your application to the ESFA is successful, you will need to sign either a:

  • contract for service with the ESFA to provide adult education or apprenticeship training to non-levy paying employers

  • funding agreement with the ESFA to provide apprenticeship training to levy paying employers

SFA contracts and apprenticeship agreements are issued through the Skills Funding Service (SFS). We need to ensure that we have a method in place that allows the secure transfer of sensitive information. ESFA use their Information Management Services (IDAMS) for this purpose and each provider needs a super-user who can assign a range of different roles. You can find out more in the guide to user roles.

The funding rules contain the principles and rules that are part of the terms and conditions of funding and must be read with the other contract documents and followed to receive funding from the ESFA.

Working with employers

Employers will use the find apprenticeship training service to select a provider to deliver their apprenticeship training. To populate this service you will need to provide information about the apprenticeships you offer using the course directory portal.

Working with levy-paying employers

If you are providing apprenticeship training, you’ll need to have a contract with the employer setting out the terms and conditions of your training offer. The ESFA does not need to see this, although our audit process will check that the contract is in place.

Levy-paying employers will use the apprenticeship service to manage funding with you. The employer will add the name and UKPRN of their selected provider in their digital account along with the agreed cost of training and assessment.

You will need to confirm some information about the apprentices and the training that you are providing in the apprenticeship service.

Both you and the employer will need to confirm that this information is correct.

The employer may want you to enter details of the apprentices for them on the apprenticeship service. You will be able to do this on screen or through a data upload. The ESFA will check this information against your ILR data before payments are made.

Working with assessment organisations

Employers will be asked to select an end point assessment organisation from the register of end point assessment organisations to support the delivery of their apprenticeship standards.

You must contract with the apprentice assessment organisation that has been selected by the employer. You must have a written agreement in place with this assessment organisation and make payment to them for conducting the end-point assessment. The written agreement must set out the arrangements for end-point assessment, including arrangements for any re-takes and payments. You can find further details in the apprenticeship technical funding guide.

The register of apprentice assessment organisations page provides more information for organisations thinking about applying to become an apprentice assessment organisation.

Recruiting and enrolling learners

To support your organisation with the recruitment and enrolment of learners, the ESFA has the following services which allow you to:

The employer you are working with might ask you to recruit apprentices to the programme on their behalf. The find an apprenticeship service is available to potential candidates to use. If you wish to upload vacancies, you will need your IDAMS login for the recruit an apprentice service.

Returning data for payment

You will need to send accurate information regarding the learners you are working with to the ESFA on a monthly basis. They collect this information using the individualised learner record (ILR).

ILR information is used to:

  • calculate payments due to you
  • match with information from an employer’s digital account
  • calculate co-investment due to you from employers
  • support financial assurance
  • create national statistics

ESFA’s individualised learner record (ILR) data and guidance gives information on how to collect, return and check the quality of your data. Once you have your ILR file, you should submit it to the Hub at the correct time. You will need to assign a user who can manage the data roles within your organisation.

You can search and check the eligibility of qualifications using the Learning Aim Search.

You can get unique learner numbers which are mandatory for ILR data returns from the Learner Records Service portal.

You will need to add an employer reference number (ERN) to all of the apprentices you report on in your ILR. You can do this by using the employer data service. You will need your unique provider identification number (UPIN) to register. ESFA will send you your UPIN when you start to work with them.

Management information systems

ESFA supply an ILR learner entry tool software free of charge to providers who need to submit ILR data to the ESFA but who do not have access to a data management system. You can download the ILR learner entry tool from the Hub.

Higher education institutions

If you are a higher education institution, you will need to submit a monthly ILR return as well as your regular HESA student record.

HESA has worked with the ESFA to create a mechanism for simplifying the production of the ILR record. You can find further information on the HESA website.

Monitoring performance

As part of the terms and conditions for funding, all contracted organisations must follow the ESFA funding and performance management rules.

Throughout the year the ESFA completes performance reviews to check you are meeting the targets in your contracts. The ESFA will use your ILR data to monitor your performance and for audit purposes.

Contact Support:

  • for technical support with ESFA systems or for data enquries, please contact their service centre

  • for general levy and apprenticeship service enquiries, please email the national contact centre or call 08000 150 600

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