What Is An Individual Learning Plan (ILP)?


An Individual Learning Plan (ILP) is a collaborative document that outlines a learner’s academic, personal or employment goals. It’s an important part of tracking progress and keeping learners motivated throughout the programme.

An Individual Learning Plan includes goals which are then broken down into measurable targets. These targets are discussed at regular progress reviews to help the learner, employer and training provider understand what success looks like for the learner and how they can achieve it together.

By creating an ILP, you’ll help each learner build confidence and motivation, strengthen their learning skills and achieve their career goals.

In this article, we’ll explain:

  • What an ILP is and how it’s used in apprenticeships
  • The benefits of an ILP
  • How to set effective targets for learners
  • How ILPs are used in Ofsted inspections

What is an Individual Learning Plan?

An Individual Learning Plan outlines a learner’s needs and career aspirations, including details of prior learning and any requirements for additional learning support.

These plans are created at the start of an apprenticeship to ensure the apprentice, employer and training provider are all clear on the needs of the learner. This allows them to plan the programme and delivery methods accordingly, giving learners the best chance of success.

While an ILP is created early on, it isn’t a static record that’s set in stone for the duration of the programme. It should act as a collaborative document that gives learners clarity over their goals and empowers them to take control of their own learning.

Training providers should use ILPs during progress reviews to monitor and reflect on the learner’s progress so far, with targets added or changed accordingly.

What are the benefits of Individual Learning Plans?

An Individual Learning Plan benefits learners in a number of ways. It provides:

  • Awareness of learning goals and the process to achieve them
  • Increased accountability and responsibility for their own learning and development
  • Better self-confidence and motivation
  • Flexibility to shape learning around their unique needs
  • An understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses, and how to harness these for success
  • A structure for short-term and long-term career planning

An ILP isn't just important for learners. It also has plenty of benefits for training providers, including:

  • Building a sense of trust between learners, employers and training providers
  • A clear framework for setting targets
  • Improved communication between the different parties, creating a greater sense of collaboration
  • Clarifying learners’ individual needs from the beginning, which can help to minimise the risk of withdrawals and improve learner outcomes
  • The ability to deliver more effective and tailored support for learners, which is key for Ofsted inspections

How to set effective targets in ILPs

Setting goals and targets is key to fostering growth and development during apprenticeships.

It can be hard to commit to learning or reskilling, especially if you’re an adult. By explaining what is expected of them, learners know where to focus their efforts and feel more motivated to reach their next target. Meeting these targets also gives learners a sense of achievement and serves as a constant reminder of their progress, which will encourage retention.

Additional benefits of setting goals and targets in the ILP include:

  • Increasing awareness of strengths and weaknesses
  • Improving self-image and confidence
  • Enjoying a sense of success and achievement
  • Clarifying the path ahead
  • Learning how to prioritise
  • Building autonomy and responsibility for learning

Four tips on setting targets for learners

With the above in mind, how do you set effective targets and ensure these targets are achievable yet challenging enough for learners? Here are some tips.

1. Outline what the learner can do

This highlights their current strengths and provides a great starting point upon which you can build. It also reminds the learner of their abilities and helps boost their confidence from day one.

2. Set SMART goals

It’s crucial that learners know exactly what each goal entails. Ensure your goals are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-bound to encourage success.

3. Start with short deadlines

Break any long-term goals into bite-sized chunks with short deadlines. This makes the overall learning experience seem more achievable and encourages regular feedback.

4. Review progress at regular intervals

The latest ESFA funding rules state that progress reviews must be held at least every 12 weeks. During these reviews, you should discuss and update the ILP to ensure it’s up to date and the learner’s progress is being tracked.

Aim to be positive and celebrate all targets that have been achieved, as well as discussing any that have been missed. It could be that additional learning support is needed if they’re struggling.

Individual Learning Plans and Ofsted

Ofsted states that “learners are adults and should be allowed to take responsibility for their learning and development”. The ideal way this can be achieved and demonstrated is via an Individual Learning Plan.

This document is a core part of an Ofsted inspection and provides naturally occurring evidence that learners can understand and explain objectives and get clear feedback.

With the new Education Inspection Framework (EIF) in place since 2019, this ensures that learners have the knowledge and skills for future learning and employment as well as the ‘cultural capital’ they need for success.

Learn more with Bud

Bud is an integrated training management platform that can optimise the success of your online training courses. Whether delivering apprenticeships or vocational training, dealing with associated paperwork or managing the course itself, Bud can help. Find out more here.