What Is An Individual Learning Plan (ILP)?

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An Individual Learning Plan (ILP) is a collaborative document that outlines a learner’s academic, personal or employment goals.

These goals are then separated into individual targets and accompanied by regular reviews to help the learner, employer and training provider understand what success looks like and how they can achieve it together.

By creating one, you can help each individual learner build confidence and motivation, strengthen learning skills and achieve their career goals.

In this article, we will explain:

  • What an ILP is
  • What an ILP means in apprenticeships
  • The purpose and benefits of an Individual Learning Plan
  • Why it’s important to set targets
  • Why ILPs are essential for Ofsted inspections
  • The best way to create an effective ILP

What Does ILP Mean In Apprenticeships?

An ILP is an individual learning agreement between an apprentice, the employer and the training provider. It’s created at the start of an apprenticeship to ensure all parties are clear on the needs of the learner so they can provide the optimal training environment and are more likely to achieve results.

By taking the educational background, learning requirements and career aspirations of the individual into account and explaining the content and delivery of the apprenticeship, the ILP also helps the apprentice to get clear on their goals and gain the most benefit from the overall learning experience.


What Is The Purpose Of An Individual Learning Plan?

Individual Learning Plans aren’t only for apprentices. They help learners of all backgrounds and abilities to see beyond the four walls of the virtual classroom and apply their newly learned skills and expertise in the real world.

Written in collaboration between the training provider and the learner, they also help boost student engagement and motivation, build their confidence and learning skills and provide essential feedback. By creating these goals with a clear roadmap to help them get there, students feel empowered and are more likely to achieve success in their studies.

Training providers can also use this information to ensure they provide the support, feedback and advice that meets the unique needs of their students.

Benefits Of Individual Learning Plans

By creating an Individual Learning Plan, you’re ensuring that all learners have an equal starting point in their studies, regardless of any additional challenges they may face. Key benefits include:



  • Awareness of both learning goals and the process to achieve this
  • Increased accountability and responsibility for their own learning and development
  • Better self-confidence and motivation
  • Understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses and how to harness these for enhanced success
  • Outlining a structure for short-term and long-term career planning
  • Focusing on flexibility and unique learner needs
  • Considering the needs of the whole learner (including their socio-economic background)
  • Providing an opportunity for better coaching and mentoring opportunities


Organisation/Training provider

  • Building a sense of trust between learners, organisation and training providers
  • Greater sense of collaboration and improved relationship with the learner
  • Providing a formal framework for performance and career development conversations
  • Clarifying learners’ needs to provide better learning opportunities
  • Understanding learner competence and potential for future leadership positions
  • Improving the ability to create a curriculum that suits the needs of the learner
  • Increase ROI on any training course provided by the employer

The Importance Of Setting Targets

Setting goals and targets are key to fostering optimal growth and development at all stages of an individual’s career. By outlining what is expected of them, students know where to focus their efforts and feel more motivated to achieve the level of attainment expected of them.

When these goals are met, they feel a sense of achievement and will be more likely to find and retain work opportunities and fulfil their career potential. 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
  • Improving decision-making stills


How To Set Targets For Your Learners

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


Outline what the student can do

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


Create a learning programme that incorporates goals

Whether you’re using an online training platform to manage those admin tasks for a particular training course, or you’re outlining your own training, you should create an ILP that outlines specific measurable goals with strategies to help the student achieve those goals, deadlines, learning objectives and information on how progress will be measured.


Start with short deadlines

When creating an overall learning target, you should break any long-term goals into bite-sized chunks with short deadlines. This makes the overall learning experience more achievable and encourages regular feedback.


Review progress at regular intervals

Throughout the learning process, ensure that you are checking the learner’s progress and providing any additional support if required. Aim to be positive and celebrate all targets that have been achieved whilst simply taking note of any that have been missed.


How To Create Individual Learning Plans

So how do you create an effective learning plan? Here are our tips:


1. Understand the student

What are the student’s unique needs? What motivates them? What are their skills, strengths, challenges, preferred learning styles and interests? You can gather this information via observation, self-evaluation and questionnaires.


2. Set SMART goals

Ensure your goals are specific, meaningful and measurable, actionable, relevant and timely to encourage success. They should also be divided into both long term and short-term goals that help celebrate successes along the way, keep the student motivated and help provide a sense of achievement.


3. Plan the learning experience

Next, add information about the teaching methods, learning experiences and resources you plan to include in the plan. When, how, where and by whom will the learning experience be delivered?


4. Monitor and review

Throughout the learning experience, regularly check what is working and what isn’t. If you highlight problems during the review, look for ways you can adjust the plan to benefit the student.


Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) And Ofsted

Ofsted believes 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.


The Best Way To Create An Effective ILP

Create an effective Individual Learning Plan by considering the unique abilities and needs of your students then create an ILP that takes these factors into account. By setting SMART goals, monitoring progress and providing regular opportunities for feedback, you can create an outstanding learning experience for apprentices and employees that help them build a brighter future.

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.

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