How Bud can drive compliance for your next ESFA audit


If you’re worried about your next ESFA audit, that’s where Bud comes in. Find out how Bud drives compliance and reduces the risk of clawback.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) carries out audits to check that training providers are maintaining accurate records and are fully compliant with funding rules.

An ESFA audit will focus on three key areas: enrolment, on programme and completion.

Auditors will take a sample data set of 10% of your Individualised Learner Records (ILRs), or a minimum of 30 records, from your most recent R14 submission. Once the sample has been chosen, you’ll need to provide greater depth of evidence on each of those learners.

If you’re worried about auditors digging into your data, that’s where Bud comes in. Bud’s platform is built to drive compliance from enrolment to EPA. It does all the hard work for you, meaning you’re always ready for your next audit and your risk of clawback is reduced.

Several Bud customers have received 0% error rates in their ESFA audits over the last year – here’s how we can do the same for you.

You can read more in the series about ESFA audits here:

Automate your learner onboarding

Collecting the right data from learners during the enrolment process can be a huge challenge. Bud fully automates the onboarding process, making it simple for learners and ensuring you have all the data you need.

With Bud, learners can complete their enrolment remotely or face to face with a trainer, whichever you prefer. This includes uploading all supporting documentation, completing commitment statements and training agreements, and providing digital signatures.

As a result, learners will have provided everything needed for compliance before they start on programme.

Mark McGrath, Technology Director at Bud said:

“We know ESFA clawback is a real worry for training providers. During enrolment, Bud’s workflows help training providers ensure their learners are eligible for their programme. It also generates the ILR and automatically updates it throughout the learner’s programme.”

Easily capture evidence

Bud’s workflows are designed to reduce administrative errors and ensure data is accurate, high quality and up to date.

The platform captures thousands of pieces of evidence from learners every day throughout their programmes. With this real-time data, you can easily track progress, identify disengaged learners and take action if someone is falling behind.

Being able to move quickly is crucial, whether you’re re-engaging learners or – worst case – removing them from the programme. It allows you to keep on top of learner activity, avoiding data irregularities and potential funding issues further down the line.

Laura Moore, Head of Data, Funding and Compliance at Raise the Bar, recently experienced an ESFA audit. Bud’s reporting facilities helped her feel well prepared:

The reporting facilities in Bud show us that learners are having regular reviews and we can track their off-the-job hours. We know where they are and where their evidence is stored, all in preparation for an audit,” she said.

I’ve completed audits in previous roles and it has been very stressful. But because we use Bud at Raise the Bar, I knew the data I needed would be accurate and I knew exactly how to easily access the evidence. I’m absolutely thrilled to say there were 0% errors!


Monitor off-the-job training delivery

Off-the-job (OTJ) training is a key requirement for both ESFA and Ofsted audits, but an area where providers frequently fall down.

Your Bud dashboard allows you to quickly check that learners are receiving their OTJ training – now set at six hours for each week on programme. You’ll be able to view trends in real time (for example, if a particular employer isn’t allocating enough training) and reach out to any employers in advance of an audit.

You can also make sure learners are receiving the right training too – something that is normally tough to track.

With Bud, OTJ training is driven by the trainer. Specific tasks are identified, so you can ensure that OTJ hours are being spent on the correct type of learning and subject matter. You’ll also give learners a better experience on their programme too.

Work through the checklist: The most common ESFA errors and how to prevent them

Share data easily with ESFA auditors

ESFA audits are conducted remotely, so you’ll need to submit all your evidence online. You’ll often have around a week to compile relevant data and documentation, and upload it to the auditor’s portal.

This process is easy to do with Bud. Simply download all the evidence requested from the platform and share with the auditors via a tool like Sharepoint.

Ian Jackson, Head of Apprenticeships at MTD Training, described Bud as a ‘safety net’, particularly when working under time constraints. He explained that the platform’s clear audit trails made him confident that they were fully compliant.

Knowing that Bud is supporting compliance from the moment a learner enrols has certainly reduced my stress levels. Bud doesn’t allow a learner to be live on the platform until they’ve completed all ESFA required enrolment evidence, which has meant fewer problems later on.


Book your free Bud demo now

Bud’s industry-leading platform gives you full visibility of your training delivery. You’ll benefit from improved data accuracy and reporting, as well as peace of mind that you have everything you need for your next ESFA audit.

More of the top 20 independent training providers use Bud than any other platform. Find out why – book a consultation today.