What is Learning Support Funding (LSF)?
And why you should be claiming it for your learners.
Learning support funding: Your full guide to LSF1
Education providers are committed to supporting learners. Yet some providers are still unsure about claiming Learning Support Funding (LSF1).
How can that be? These two ideas go hand in hand.
This Government funding stream gives providers the flexibility to deliver a personalised approach to learning, as each learner who receives support can access more funding each month.
Think about what this can do for their learning journey.
LSF1 can be used to give the learner extra time with tutors, cover the costs of learning support software, implement reasonable adjustments and more.
So we have created a full guide to help organisations understand Learning Support Funding, what it is, how to claim it and why it’s an important part of supporting all learners to achieve.
You can download a copy and take a look at some of the fundamental info about LSF1 below.
What is Learning Support Funding?
The Government has set out rules and regulations for the funding of apprenticeships and adult education in the UK.
Learning Support Funding (LSF1) is part of the Government’s provision to support learners with identified learning difficulties or disabilities.
LSF1 is provided by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to help providers work more flexibly and support the identified needs of their learners.
The funding is there to empower learners who might otherwise struggle to continue or complete their course. And means that more learners can achieve their learning goals.
How to claim LSF1
To successfully claim LSF1, you need two things:
- Evidence at the start of a learners’ programme.
- Ongoing monthly evidence of support.
At the start of a learner’s programme, providers should be identifying their learners who would benefit from learning support and create an individualised learner report (ILR) for these learners.
In the funding rules, it says:
“This includes individuals who self-declare a learning difficulty or disability, and those who do not have a diagnosis of a learning difficulty or disability but in relation to whom the main provider has identified to us a learning need.” (ESFA, 2020)
Basically, this means that learners do not require a formal diagnosis to receive support.
If an initial discussion with a learner reveals that they previously received support at school, written notes of this discussion can count as evidence of an identified need.
But often learners have hidden learning needs that they may be completely unaware of and it can be hard to identify these needs.
It helps to assess your learners’ needs during onboarding to ensure they receive the appropriate support from day one.
In terms of ongoing support, providers should be evidencing any support they are giving to learners on a monthly basis.
Again, the funding rules state that providers must:
“deliver support to meet the apprentice’s identified needs, and review progress and continuing needs, as appropriate” (ESFA, 2020)
Monthly reviews help to record the outcomes of learning support and make sure the learner is happy with their support.
Providers can take this opportunity to talk about what’s working for the learner and what isn’t. Helping to improve the overall quality of learning provisions.
All this forms part of the evidence pack.
The ESFA guidance requires providers to hold details of any support needs identified, including an initial assessment or discussion of these learning needs. As well as details of how you will meet these needs and a record of all outcomes.
How much funding does each learner receive?
The ESFA provides a flat rate £150 a month. Between the ‘from’ and ‘to’ dates specified on the induvial learner report.
So the sooner you can identify if a learner experiences difficulties, the sooner you can access funding to help support that learner.
The payment is made directly to the provider and does not come from the levy paying Employer’s Apprenticeship Levy Account, where applicable.
The ESFA, like all Government bodies, wants to ensure that the support is providing value for money. The monthly rate is expected to be enough to cover the provider’s costs. And it usually is.
However, if the cost of providing support to a learner does go above the overall amount of the monthly rates and you have evidence of the excess, you can claim for this excess through the Earnings Adjustment Statement (EAS).
For example, you might need to use the EAS to pay for one off payments like reasonable adjustments at end-point assessment. But in most cases, the monthly rates should cover things like reasonable adjustments.
The learner must be receiving learning support on the last day of the month to receive LSF for that month.
For example, if you enter even one day out from the end of the October, the 30 October, as the ‘date applies to’ on the ILR, you will not receive LSF for October. So watch out for this.
Why claim Learning Support Funding?
When learners receive support tailored to their specific learning needs, it enables them to effectively participate, progress and make better decisions in their learning.
The support that LSF enables can be difference between completion and noncompletion.
Ultimately helping to create more equal opportunities in education and improve potential life outcomes as learners go on to progress in learning and the workplace.
Claiming LSF also helps providers to:
- Have a robust approach to identifying learners with hidden difficulties.
- Ensure staff have the necessary skills to be confident in supporting learners with learning difficulties.
- Invest in resources to support learners who require support in certain areas.
- Review processes to ensure they are fit for purpose for learners with learning needs and removing any unnecessary barriers and smoothing out pinch points in the process – making it a better overall experience for the learner.
- Retain learners who might otherwise struggle to complete their apprenticeship.
- Demonstrate to Ofsted how they identify and respond to individual’s needs and support improved outcomes for all learners.
How to avoid funding clawback
This is obviously a big one for providers.
Even the idea of clawback prevents organisations from claiming funding in the first place.
But it is avoidable.
Building your support provision into your organisation’s processes and policy and using scalable tools to help you evidence the support learners receive helps to create best practice procedures.
Creating internal audits and testing for errors puts providers in a strong position for audit by the ESFA.
Download our learning support funding handbook
- 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.