Why should you apply for Learning Support Funding (LSF1)?

How easy is it to apply and what are the benefits for learners and for learning providers?

LSF can be an open question mark for many in the industry and the guidelines are complex, which puts off many providers from even exploring what support funding they could be claiming.

Here are 10 things to know about LSF, which hopefully will help you to access this much-needed funding stream for your learners.

How does LSF help learners?

#1 It’s about levelling the playing field

LSF can be drawn down from the ESFA as an effective way to help learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities (LDD).

It can be used to cover the costs of implementing reasonable adjustments throughout a learner’s programme and after Gateway at end-point assessment.

In the apprenticeship sector, it’s important to ensure a programme is ambitious in its aims but also acknowledges that all apprentices have different abilities. And ensure there are procedures in place to meet their support requirements.
The ESFA funding is there to help all learners achieve their goals, whatever their learning needs.

#2 It’s not just for learners with diagnosed disabilities

As we said, the guidelines for LSF are complex and often providers underclaim because they misinterpret who does and doesn’t qualify for the £150 monthly payments.

Learners can experience various learning difficulties and often they can be unaware that they even experience a hidden learning need.

The most important point is to make sure that as many learners as possible are assessed on their learning needs, whether they have been formally diagnosed or not.

#3 LSF gives move flexible ways to provide training to learners who require support

There are plenty of ways LSF can support apprentices and training providers.

It can mean more things like:

  • Investing in additional training staff/tutors to support learners with LDD.
  • Ensuring learners receive more time or more regular meetings with their support staff.
  • Providing equipment your learners need to complete their training.
  • Implementing reasonable adjustments from day one into the learner’s working environment.
  • Personalised learning strategies every month.

With more options, providers have more opportunities to break down the barriers to learning and bring in more apprentices who would otherwise have been prevented from learning.

How does LSF help you?

#4 Supporting learners with LDD demonstrates to Ofsted an intent to provide quality of education to all learners

All providers on the RoATP should be constantly evaluating their support infrastructure to ensure they provide outstanding ways of meeting their learners needs.

With the new EIF and the focus on SEND, this is becoming more relevant than ever.

Is your organisation keeping up with the increase in our understanding of neurodiversity?

Based on over 60,000 cognitive assessments, our data shows that one in every three apprentices is neurodiverse in a way that requires support.

Do your identification rates reflect this? How is your organisation identifying and supporting these learners?

#5 LSF can be a tool to aid programme retention and engagement

Learners with hidden learning needs are often the ones who disengage from their programme and are at more risk of dropping out.

We should be focusing on helping all learners to stay on track with learning, all the way to completion.

LSF can help you to offer appropriate and more targeted support to make a real difference in the lives of many learners.

#6 LSF is there to give training providers additional means to support learners

You no doubt have support provisions already in place to help learners.

But claiming LSF gives you an extra £150 a month to support a learner with identified needs. Think of the impact this could have on their learning journey.

You can also use the Earnings Adjustment Statement (EAS) to claim funding that you cannot report in the Individual Learning Report (ILR) for larger, one-off support costs.

This ensures that providers are in a better position to provide meaningful support to learners and that they have the means to integrate support measures into their procedures and policy using scalable tools.

#7 It provides a good starting point to build from

It’s difficult to deliver appropriate support and success at end-point assessment if providers don’t have a good idea of their learners’ initial starting point.

And even more so if providers are unable to understand what hidden learning needs their apprentices may have.
We need to ensure that learners understand and retain the information that is presented to them and are able to put this learning into practice.

We can do this by implementing valid, reliable and manageable approaches to their learning.

How can Cognassist help?

#8 Cognassist makes claiming LSF easier

It’s easy to be put off from claiming LSF when it’s unclear exactly what needs to be provided in the Evidence Pack.
Many providers don’t want to get it wrong and risk clawback.

Cognassist makes the process as easy and painless as possible with a quick 30-minute online assessment, which automatically produces an individual cognitive assessment report.

Our platform also provides clear engagement tracking and intervention reports, which are discussed with learners regularly.
All of this provides the primary evidence for monthly claims and puts providers in a strong position when being audited.

#9 We provide a clear and easy to use system

The cognitive assessment itself is based on a deep understanding of cognitive science.

We want to remove the stigma around learning difficulties and reassure learners who may struggle with their studies.
The monthly learning strategies we provide are based on each learner’s identified needs and programme level to create personalised support.

These strategies are presented to learners in a variety of ways, depending on how best they interpret information e.g. visual, audio, etc.

Our dashboard for tutors allows clear visibility of each learner and their progress, as well as a simple notes section to evidence and discuss learner engagement.

#10 We help identify learners with previously hidden needs

We are passionate about helping those with hidden learning needs, who would otherwise go unsupported, to gain access to vital support.

Those using Cognassist have reported an increase in the number of learners with an identified need from 8% to 24%, which is helping to build a brighter future for more learners.

In one of our case studies, West Suffolk College doubled its LSF income between 2017/18 and 2018/19, meaning they have a greater capacity to support their learners with Cognassist’s help.

The provision of LSF provides great opportunities for learners who require support, and we’re proud to support providers who are working to build a more inclusive learning environment for apprentices across the country.

Almost 100 learning providers and 60,000 learners have experienced the improvements first-hand, and we’re passionate about creating further opportunities for all learners to succeed.

Are you?

Download our learning support funding handbook

You’ll learn:

  • How to provide clear guidance on what evidence needs to be gathered at each stage of the process to support the LSF claim.
  • Specifically, map out all the processes relating to claiming LSF.
  • How to present information in the evidence pack for the learner.