How claiming learner support funding raises the standard of assistance for learners

Header image for article: How claiming ALS raises the standard of support for learners

Learner support funding helps training providers to better support apprentices who have learning difficulties or disabilities – yet the majority of providers still lack the confidence to make a claim.

Additional learner support (ALS) funding gives providers a fixed amount of money to make “reasonable adjustments” to help apprentices with learning difficulties or disabilities complete their apprenticeship. It’s there to support a range of learners, including those with dyslexia, ADHD, sensory impairments, physical disabilities or medical conditions.

The funding is currently set at £150 per month. It can be put towards support like additional staff or specialist equipment. However, it can only be claimed for each month where the adjustments are delivered, incur a cost and are, most importantly, evidenced.

The “fear factor” of claiming learner support funding

We’ve found that the evidence requirement is the biggest deterrent for training providers when it comes to claiming funding. We’ve spoken to several providers who, prior to using Bud, were regularly providing learning support but described a “fear factor” around actually putting a claim forward.

As Rupert Crossland, Director of Audit and Compliance at Professional Assessment, explained in a recent Bud webinar:

“The classic thing with learning support is that providers either don’t claim it because they’re not confident that they will meet evidence requirements, or they do claim it and don’t meet the requirements. In that case, gaps in evidence are found in an audit and these errors result in the funding being recovered and their overall error rate increasing,” he said.

“It’s a fine line. Providers can even switch between these two extremes in their efforts to achieve compliance and maximise valid learning support funding.”

The risks of inconsistent support

The solution for a lot of providers is to offer extra help where they can without claiming learning support funding. This could include trainers working overtime or investing in equipment and writing it off as a lost overhead.

But this approach doesn’t just have a negative impact on a company’s bottom line – it also often means that learners aren’t getting the best support possible. If you’re a provider that delivers learner support funding ad-hoc, it’s unlikely you’ll have a formal processes in place to:

  • Track the support offered to learners
  • Review which adjustments are delivering the most benefit
  • Make improvements to deliver more effective support in the future

A lack of structure usually results in inconsistent support, which can have a negative knock-on effect on learner progress, and become a compliance risk for Ofsted.

Being able to claim additional learner support funding means it will become an accountable area that is constantly reviewed and improved. Training providers will be able to rest assured knowing that learners are getting the best support possible to fit their individual needs and that costs are covered.

Claim learner support funding with confidence

Bud makes claiming funding more straightforward. The Bud platform automatically collects all the evidence required and our reporting dashboards provide real-time visibility for managers. This includes:

  • Which learners are receiving support
  • The type of support they’ve had
  • When the support was last delivered
  • Any subsequent planned support

Want to see the platform in action? Book a discovery call now.