Achieving ESFA compliance for 16 to 19 and AEB funding streams


Two important funding streams for training providers are 16 to 19 study programmes (16 to 19) and adult education budget (AEB). Just like apprenticeship funding, the compliance rules are rigid and often complex. What can you do to prepare?

We covered 16 to 19 and AEB funding in our recent webinar on ‘Compliance for Education, Skills and Funding Agency (ESFA) audits’.

In the webinar, we were joined by Rupert Crossland, Director of Audit and Compliance at Professional Assessment. Rupert has over 25 years’ experience in compliance and auditing roles within the training industry, and was able to share exclusive insights into preparing for your next ESFA audit.

Here are the key points you need to know about staying compliant in the 16 to 19 and AEB areas.

16 to 19 funding guidance

“To begin with, confirming eligibility is critical,” Rupert said. “There must be evidence for every learner that the initial assessment confirms the suitability of the programme. The ESFA has eligibility rules to ensure that the funding provides training to those that they consider should receive it.”

Learning agreement

The learning agreement is also important. You’ll need to ensure that the planned hours recorded in the Individualised Learner Records (ILRs) are consistent with the learning agreement.

Condition of funding

Condition of funding is all about English and maths for the 16 to 19 funding stream. There must be evidence of delivery of the aims of English and maths from the start date and evidence of participation.

Some students will be exempt if they’ve already achieved the required levels of English and maths, but you still need to show evidence of their previous achievements.

Evidence of learning

There needs to be evidence to show the following:

  • The start date is accurate
  • The qualifying period is met
  • Learner existence throughout the programme

Planned hours

Auditors will want to see a breakdown of the planned hours in the learning agreement and the timetable.

Confirming eligibility is critical. There must be evidence that the initial assessment confirms the suitability of the programme.


Adult education budget (AEB)

Rupert explains that for AEB compliance, there must be evidence of eligibility and initial assessment. In the initial assessment, make sure you determine whether there is prior learning that will require a funding adjustment for the learner’s programme.

“If you’re delivering functional skills, initial assessment and diagnostics are mandatory. Once you’ve determined the learner’s maths and English starting level, you must deliver at a level above that,” Rupert added.

Auditors will be looking for evidence of learning:

  • From the start date and from the return from any breaks in learning
  • To the actual end date or break in learning date, including covering the qualifying period for funding

“An important point about the adult education budget (AEB) is that it’s paid at full funding or co-funding rates,” Rupert said.

“It’s dependent on a range of factors, such as whether it’s maths and English, whether it is the first level two or three qualification for 19 to 23 year olds, or whether the individual is unemployed or on a low wage. Whatever factor applies, you must have evidence to support the rate being claimed.”

When it comes to learning support, many of the rules around ESFA apprenticeship audits apply to AEB. The key rules include:

  • Carry out a thorough assessment to identify the learning difficulty or disability
  • Compile a plan of support to enable the learner to overcome the learning difficulty
  • Record all learning support sessions delivered for the learner
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the learning support, and if necessary update the plan

“A lot of the learning support requirements for AEB are a little less detailed, but the principles are the same,” Rupert explained.

Get peace of mind in 16 to 19 and AEB with Bud

ESFA audits can be stressful – auditors will be looking for evidence at every step in the learner journey to prove you’re compliant.

With Bud, you can go into your next audit confident that your evidence matches your ESFA funding claim. Our single, joined-up platform automatically captures and records learner progress every single day. This gives you greater visibility over your learner data, as well as all the evidence you need for your ESFA audit.

Learn more about how Bud removes the stress of ESFA audits or book a demo now.