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Individualised Learner Record (ILR) management

individualised learner record management

As we have seen previously, Individualised Learner Records (ILR) are an essential aspect of apprenticeship compliance. Training providers must ensure that ILR submission happens on time, and that the ILR contains the required information. 

What is the ILR?  

An ILR, or individualised learner record, is an ongoing collection of data about a learner. Individualised learner records are maintained throughout an apprentice’s learning journey. The data that is collected and then submitted in the ILR is used to ensure that public money – distributed by the ESFA – is used to fund high-quality learning programmes, and to inform government statistics. 

More specifically, as explained on the ESFA website, the data contained in the ILR is used to: 

  • Calculate actual funding earned 
  • Monitor at an individual level, all training providers’ delivery against allocation or contract 
  • Monitor quality of provision and evaluate the effectiveness of training providers across the learning and skills sector 
  • Make the case to government for levels of funding appropriate to the sector 
  • Monitor progress against government targets 
  • Demonstrate the outcomes of the distribution of government funds 

Training providers across government-funded apprenticeships and skills bootcamps are responsible for completing and submitting the ILR. ILR submission happens in most cases on a monthly basis. Providers offering training to 16-19 year olds must submit data on a quarterly basis. The data return for each month is referred to as R01, R02 and so on. Each is submitted in arrears, with the monthly deadline being the fourth working day of the following month. This continues throughout the year until R12, as you would expect.

There are two extra returns – R13 and R14. As the Head of Operations for the Apprenticeships Service explains, R13 and R14 give you an opportunity to tidy up the data from those previous returns and also to add in any additional data that you hadn’t previously been able to submit. The R14 deadline is also known as a ‘hard stop’ and falls on 20 October 2022 at 6pm. 

Why is the ILR important?  

As we’ve seen, data from individualised learner records enables the government to track and report on the sector. They can also monitor the quality and suitability of provision. For training providers, individualised learning records are key because they are used by the ESFA to calculate their funding. Without accurate individualised learner records, training providers will not receive government funding. 

Common pitfalls in the ILR 

ILR management is time-consuming and complex, and becomes more so as the number of learners an organisation supports grows.  

The depth and breadth of the information that needs to be recorded for each learner is significant. For organisations training 500 learners or less, the government provides a free ILR Learner Entry Tool. However, providers with larger learner numbers, or aspirations to have larger learner numbers, are advised to use a purpose-built Management Information system. This ensures the correct data is collected and submitted.  

The ESFA checks all ILR data upon submission and if errors are found, they will require the training provider to check, correct and return the data. However, they don’t allow much time for this process to happen. Any delays in this process can result in delays to the receipt of funding.  

As errors in the data can range from the simple (the formatting of dates or post codes, for example) to the more complex, it is advisable to use a tool like the Funding Information System (FIS) to highlight any errors in your data before submitting. It’s important to be aware of what the FIS does and does not check. For example, rules that rely on external tables such as postcode or Unique Learner Number tables are not included in the FIS and will need to be checked separately. Finally, it’s recommended to submit data early so that there is time – if needed – to go through the process of fixing any errors found by the ESFA in the ILR.  

How do the latest funding rules impact the ILR? 

Changes to funding rules will impact IRL submission from August 2022. A full explanation of the changes to apprenticeship funding rules is available here.  

Here is an extract of the new rules that affect individual learner record submissions:   

  • If planned off-the-job training hours have been submitted in the ILR for the apprentice, actual off-the-job training hours must also be submitted in the ILR, at the end of the practical period or where the apprentice leaves the apprenticeship early as a non-completer; this includes current learners on programme as of 31 July 2022.
  • If, during their programme, an apprentice becomes unemployed, self-employed as a sole trader, or becomes a shareholder / director with no separate identifiable person to undertake the role of employer, they will no longer be eligible for funding and must be reported on the ILR as having withdrawn from the apprenticeship. 
  • The actual delivery cost of the apprenticeship is no longer required to be on the ILR and the apprenticeship service, where this figure is above the funding band. The price entered into both the ILR and the apprenticeship service is the price that the training provider is claiming. The same price must be entered into the ILR and the apprenticeship service. Training providers must make their own arrangements to collect any money due from the employer if the true value is above the funding band maximum.
  • Training providers must make sure that the PAYE scheme used in the apprenticeship service account for the apprentice is linked to the National Insurance number for the apprentice declared by the main provider in the ILR.

This outline is simply a helpful summary of changes. Training providers must check full requirements on the government website before submitting their data.   

How should providers manage ILR management and submissions? 

ILR can be complex, even for those experienced in world of apprenticeship management. In response to this, Aptem are inviting customers to join an ILR, Compliance and Funding Forum. This is a valuable opportunity for small groups of Aptem customers to discuss with peers how they are approaching current issues. Topics include the 4-week active learning rule, Initial Assessment and RPL and ILR error codes. The event is an opportunity to share and receive best practice, tips and advice from the group. 

From a systems perspective, Aptem Apprentice makes it quick and easy to create your ILRs. This allows you to focus on compliance rather than complex data entry. 

 How Aptem simplifies your ILRs and monthly submissions:   

  • Process automations allow you to make compliant ILR changes through trackers with an audit trail of changes. Aptem does the hard work.  
  • The Aptem RPL Calculator automates the tasks associated with applying the correct reductions to price and duration based on the apprentice’s recognised prior learning in accordance with the 22/23 funding rules, so that administrators can submit a compliant and accurate ILR. 
  • Different levels of ILR permissions enable a robust ILR verification process to protect the ILR from changes that may affect compliance and your funding claims. 
  • The built-in Compliance Dashboard easily identifies things like missing AIMS, data errors, and compliance issues. 
  • It is quick and easy to export batch files and filter the data, for all learners or groups of learners. 
  • Learners can self-serve their personal information saving on double keying and reducing errors. 
  • ILR templates are available at programme level, automating the creation of the ILR and removing the need for manual entry. 
Aptem’s ILR functionality in action

“Here at Edge Hill University is really benefiting from the off-the-job calculations that are all done by Aptem, being able to process ILRs digitally and the process automations within the ILR that reduces admin time and margin of error, and the reporting that helps to inform operational and strategic decisions.” Joanne Sage, Compliance Manager, Edge Hill University 

“We are very happy that we selected Aptem Apprentice. The programme director can log on and assess the application suitability and take it from there, which saves a lot of time. Having the top-level overview of our apprentice’s progress and the ability to generate reports is great. The ILR functionality is invaluable. This flexible system saves us considerable time and effort and delivers a high level of insight.” Ruth Eccles, Head of Professional and Workplace Learning, University of Nottingham 

If you would like to talk to a member of our team about support for managing individualised learner records, please get in touch. Aptem supports nearly 200 apprenticeship providers with ILR submission and lots more apprenticeship management functionality.

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