How has Bud changed to meet the latest ESFA funding rules?


The rules set by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) form an important framework for the way apprenticeship training providers record their data.

In May, a range of new ESFA funding rule changes were introduced for the 2022/23 academic year, and many of them will impact the way that training providers operate.

At Bud, we want to make sure it’s as easy as possible for providers to capture all the information they need to, in the format that’s required. So we’ve been through the rules with a fine-tooth comb to extract the changes that have the biggest impact on you and your business.

What are the key ESFA changes for 2022/23?

Let’s start with a quick overview of the most important changes that affect training providers:

  • Off-the-job (OTJ) calculations
  • Enhanced initial assessments (IA) to recognise prior learning (RPL) requirements
  • Only recording the maximum funding band in the ILR
  • Progress reviews at least every 12 weeks
  • Commitment statement now referred to as the “training plan”
  • Recording actual off-the-job hours in the ILR for other change of circumstances

Other amendments that Bud has responded to

While the following changes don’t specifically relate to the funding rules, they still have an impact on how training providers operate. For this reason, we’re making further enhancements to Bud to support your processes:

  • Ability to amend OTJ hours for each activity during enrolment
  • Enhanced OTJ tracking

The latest updates to Bud

So what exactly does each change mean, and how has Bud responded? Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect.

The change: Off-the-job (OTJ) calculation

Previously, apprentices were required to spend 20% of their working time on their OTJ learning. After years of complaints, the ESFA has now changed this and capped it at six hours per week for full-time employees. The 20% rule remains for part-time learners.

How Bud has responded

  • We’ve added the new calculation (six hours per week on programme) for learners starting on 1st August and working 30+ hours per week
  • For part-time learners and in-progress learners going through the edit flow, the existing calculations remain

The change: Enhanced IA and RPL

This has been moving in a certain direction for some time. The ESFA is increasingly looking for evidence of learners’ previous work experience and soft skills and behaviours that relate to the standards, rather than only looking at qualifications.

How Bud has responded

To cover this, we’ve added some extra questions into the application. These have been developed in collaboration with our client forum (made up of training providers we work with) to make sure they cover the right issues.

The questions come just before the programme activities exemptions, so the answers inform whether you need to make any adjustments to those activities.

For robust record keeping, the questions and answers will also be displayed on a document and signed by all three parties.

The change: Recording the maximum funding band

The ESFA will only contribute amounts up to the maximum funding band. There’s now no need to record amounts agreed over this band between training providers and employers.

How Bud has responded

You’ll continue to see your agreed price with the employer in the front end, but our calculations have been tweaked. This means that, even if you try to enter a higher value, the ILR will only record up to the maximum funding band.

We’re also planning a future update to support our customers when End Point Assessment (EPA) costs are not known during application. If you are adding the EPA costs later on and they take you over the maximum funding band, Bud will automatically update the TNP1 and TNP2 records.

The change: Progress reviews to be recorded every 12 weeks

The draft rules stated a change to progress reviews being recorded every 8-12 weeks. This has now been changed to every 12 weeks.

How Bud has responded

The new timings have been referenced in the text in the training plan.

The change: Commitment statement terminology

The commitment statement will now be referred to as the “training plan”.

How Bud has responded

Learners starting from 1st August 2022 will see “training plan” on their system. Those who started before this date will continue to see “commitment statement”.

Other Bud enhancements coming soon

We’re also working hard on a range of other changes, to ensure your processes continue to run smoothly and stay fully compliant.

The change: Recording OTJ hours in the ILR

Apprentices who leave early as a non-completer must now submit actual OTJ hours into the ILR, alongside planned OTJ hours.

What’s next at Bud

Currently, OTJ hours are recorded in the ILR for completions – this will soon be extended to include withdrawals.

The change: Amending OTJ hours in application

Changes to the IA and RPL mean that activities will now need to be amended on a more granular level. At the moment, you can exempt the whole activity or continue with the whole activity, but there’s no middle ground.

What’s next at Bud

To help tailor learning plans, we’re building in new functionality so you can edit the planned OTJ hours associated with an activity during enrolment.

The change: Reducing the duration of the programme

The recent changes also mean that training providers may need to reduce the duration of the apprenticeship programme by less than monthly increments.

What’s next at Bud

We’re adding days and weeks as options to reduce the duration. This will appear in the programme start date section of the applicant sign-up.

The change: Improved OTJ hour tracking

OTJ training is a key requirement for both ESFA and Ofsted, and funding rules are getting tighter to reflect this.

For this reason, we’re always looking to improve how OTJ hours are tracked and the level of detail. In particular, how they can relate to the four tests:

  1. The hours are directly relevant to the apprenticeship
  2. They are teaching new knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs)
  3. They’re not teaching English or maths
  4. They’re done during normal working hours

What’s next at Bud

We’re planning to add a new log where the learner or trainer can go into a specific activity and add OTJ hours.

It will allow learners to clearly record the OTJ hours completed, ensure they meet the four tests and have them approved by the training provider.

Still have questions about how Bud supports ESFA compliance?

Bud’s apprenticeship and training management software was built to drive compliance, from enrolment right through to end-point assessment. Learn more about how Bud removes the hassle of ESFA audits or book a demo now.