Why should you apply for Learning Support Funding (LSF)? 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 extra 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 identified additional learning needs (ALN) and/or disabilities. In the education sector, it’s important to ensure all learners a programme that’s ambitious in its aims but acknowledges that we all have different abilities and support requirements. The 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 mentioned, the guidelines for LSF are complex, and often providers underclaim because they misinterpret who does and doesn’t qualify for the £150 monthly payments. A learning difficulty can mean many things, and often learners are unaware that they may have 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 provides more flexible ways to provide training to the learners most in need
There are plenty of options when considering a claim for LSF to support apprentices. Usually, however it involves specific training and support or auxiliary aids, such as:
- Investing in additional staff/tutors to support those with ALN.
- Ensuring learners receive more time or more frequent meetings with their support staff.
- Providing equipment your leaners need to complete their training.
- Implementing reasonable adjustments, such as a flexible working environment.
- Personalised learning strategies, such as those provided by Cognassist.
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 SEND 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? How are you supporting your most vulnerable 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 and offering appropriate support can make a real difference in the lives of many learners.
#6 LSF is there to give training providers additional income to support learners
Did you know you can claim up to £150 per month per learner with identified needs who receives ongoing additional learning support offering value for money? While £150 a month may not seem like much, it can build up over time into a substantial amount. This means that providers are in a better position to provide meaningful support to learners by increasing their budget and safeguarding their longevity as a training provider. Did you know you could potentially be drawing down thousands of pounds in LSF every year, which can be of great benefit to learners as well as your organisation.
#7 It provides a good starting point on which to build
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 learning profile. And more, that they aren’t able to understand what hidden learning needs they may have. We need to ensure that learners understand and retain the information which 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 or simply don’t want the hassle of additional work. 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 neuroscience. We want to remove the stigma around ALN and reassure learners who may struggle with their studies. The strategies we provide are based on each learner’s strengths and weaknesses and 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 with ALN. 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 with ALN, 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 50,000 learners have experienced the improvements first-hand, and we’re passionate about creating further opportunities for all learners to succeed. Are you?
Author: Helen Wilson, Content Manager, Cognassist.
Download our funding guide
If you would like more information on Learning Support Funding, just fill in the form below to download our guide written by our funding expert Jaine Bolton, a former Senior Director with the National Apprenticeship Service.