Ben James

24/25 draft rules



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Martin Locock

Para 73  (reduction of planned hours/ OTJ hours for Prior Learning for cohort delivery) is interesting- I think the intent is that an 18 month course for which 4 months of APEL is granted would calculate the OTJ hours for the 14 months while showing the learning length as 18 months, and the 14 months is treated as the funded learning period.  This would presumably mean that the apprentice start date (start of practical period) would be month 1, start of funded learning/OTJ minimum Month 5.   The APEL hours are recorded on the DAS (not the ILR, which only shows the funding adjustment %).  Is that how others read it?



Ben James

That's how I read it, yes. I'm assuming these learners will probably flag on the Planned hours report on the PDSAT because it'll flag that the ILR planned hours figure is less than what it calculates it should be, based on the ZPROG start/planned end date?

Ruth Canham-James

This was the biggest change that jumped out at me, and I had similar thoughts. I can see how it makes sense, and makes it clear to providers that a course that's usually 14 months, and has 40% RPL, is not eligible for funding at all even if you keep the duration at 14 months.

However, what if you don't plan to reduce OTJ hours even with RPL? Your training plan might still allow for 6 hours a week for the full duration, even if it wasn't strictly required. For a student without RPL, our Planned OTJ doesn't have to reflect exactly 6 hours a week, it can be higher. Why can't that be the case with students with RPL?

We always reduce our price to reflect RPL, but it doesn't follow that we always reduce our OTJ. That's why we find those fields in the DAS so hard to get right, the two things don't necessarily correlate. I fed that back when we piloted it, but the validation still doesn't like it.

73.1 isn't super clear. It's very confusing that only 14 months of an 18 month apprenticeship is being classed as "the funded element", when the OPP payments are still being spread over 18 months. That's conceptually very odd.

Ben James

We do pretty much the same re. reducing price but not necessarily OTJ expectation. If apprentices received training on 1 KSB at a time, it would simple (from a compliance, not a logistics perspective haha).. but they don't. Any given taught session could/would impart several KSBs that are impossible to extricate from one another. We'd look to reduce our price if an apprentice demonstrated in their INA/Skills Scan that they were already occupationally competent in K1 (for example), but if a taught session covered K1, K2, and K3 in combination, they'd still need to attend to entire session to receive training on the latter 2, and the planned hours would therefore be unchanged. 

I also agree on 73.1. If you're not reducing the duration from the outset, and you're not putting apprentices on breaks and then not extending the planned end date, then aside from some weird metaphysical interpretation.. nothing is different as far as funding goes. 

Martin West

I do not agree that ‘This would presumably mean that the apprentice start date (start of practical period) would be month 1, start of funded learning/OTJ minimum Month 5.   The APEL hours are recorded on the DAS (not the ILR, which only shows the funding adjustment %)’.

You record the start and planned end date for cohorts where the time cannot be reduced as normal in the ILR, those with APL will have a reduced price and OTJ hours recorded on the DAS account and the ESFA will use this to identify such learners.



Ruth Canham-James

Yes, the guidance specifically says to record the Planned OTJ should be reduced in the ILR, not just the DAS.

Ben James Exactly, it's never neat and tidy like that. We've always assumed we have to reduce the price for RPL, even if we couldn't reduce the OTJ for the reasons you've given. If we're not reducing the OTJ hours for good reason, are we allowed to not reduce the price? I doubt we'd get away with that. This rule just doesn't reflect the reality of RPL and how it impacts on delivery:

Ben James

I don't think that'd fly with the ESFA either to be honest, much as it would save us money, based mainly on the fact that I guess they'd say the hours are still being delivered not because the apprentice needs them (the opposite is true, as identified by their INA), but because our delivery structure is such that they have to be. One could argue there's no other wholly practical way to deliver a great many of the standards, other than this way.. but I imagine the response would be "that's your prerogative.. you either do it differently, or do it for less money". 

I suppose it comes back to the notion that recognising prior learning is more of an art than a science. How much time do you ascribe to each KSB? Are they all equal in terms of their financial significance? If an apprentice is already proficient in K1, has no experience whatsoever with K2, but the 2 are always 'taught'/delivered together, the number of hours the apprentice would be expected to do is no different, so how is it fair to say we have to charge less for the same teaching time?

Martin West

Historically Apprenticeship delivery was considered to be Role on Role off but over time this has changed with more providers delivering cohort delivery that has a fixed end date as in the case for most HE Apprenticeships, this Policy change has been included to facilitate RPL to still be recorded but with the planned hours on ILR will be viewed alongside prior learning hours reported in the apprenticeship service to determine the funded element of the Apprenticeship when the actual duration recorded on the ILR cannot be reduced.

Yes it is a bit of a fudge but unless you can come up with a better solution I think we are going to have to work with it.

Wayne Hosking

Hi all,

  Anyone noticed the change in the wording in Support for English and Maths between 23/24 and 24/25 it seems the new rules for next year is suggesting a GCSE grade 1 (or G) is accepted as an equivalent to a Functional Skill Level 1, although the change i could not see in their Summary of Changes, is this a mistake?


23/24 rules

42.1. Where the apprentice holds neither level 1 nor level 2 approved 

42.1.1 The apprentice must study towards and achieve English and maths qualifications of at least level 1 (functional skills level 1 or GCSE grade E or 2). Once level 1 (functional skills level 1 or GCSE grade E or 2)

24/25 DRAFT

38.1. Where the apprentice holds neither level 1 (Functional Skills level 1 or GCSE D to G or 3 to 1) nor level 2 (Functional Skills level 2 or GCSE A* to C or 9 to 4) approved qualifications: 
38.1.1 The apprentice must study towards and achieve English and maths qualifications of at least level 1 (Functional Skills level 
1 or GCSE grade 3 - 1). Once level 1 (Functional Skills level 1 or GCSE grade 3 - 1)




Steve Hewitt

Yes, I'm with Ben James on the not reducing cost thing...

28. Where relevant prior learning and experience is identified, the provider must
summarise the impact, including whether, and by how much, the apprenticeship
content and duration has been reduced.
28.1. Where content is to be omitted from the training plan, this must be shown
as a volume of off-the-job training hours. This reduction in hours must
translate to a reduction in duration and price 

"whether, and by how much" could equal zero? If, as in Ben's example, delivery of K1, 2 and 3 is all at once and inextricable, "whether, and by how much" would be "no", so if the App is doing the same hours as their fellow classmates then there's no requirement to reduce the price because we're not reducing the hours.

Steve Hewitt

The whole point of this version of the reduction calculation was to STOP people taking off five quid here and ten quid there, I'd argue.

Ben Bullers

Hi all

Still trying to get my head around the new cohort delivery funding rule and what it is actually saying. 

So if we have an apprentice on a 24 month programme that we have identified has 10% RPL, we will reduce the TNP1 by 10% and record the 10% reduction on DAS. Does that then reduce the "funded element of the planned duration"? If so, can we then reduce the OTJT hours required from 556 to 501 even though in the ILR they will still be on a 24 month programme because they are learning as part of a cohort?

So in essence, are they asking us to put an OTJT hours figure into the ILR that doesn't meet the minimum required for the duration reported in the ILR, or have i got it completely wrong?

Many thanks

Ruth Canham-James

Ben Bullers If there's 10% RPL, your band maximum is reduced by 5%. If you would have charged band max anyway, the practical implication is that you reduce your total price by 5%. See examples here. That'll all come off the TNP1 since you can't reduce the TNP2, as that is whatever the EPAO is charging. The TNP1 reduction will be slightly more than 5% as a result.

You next bit you mention is exactly what I was thinking today. I have read and re-read this guidance and I'm still unsure. The rules are that reductions are determined by how much content you're omitting because of RPL, based on OTJ compared with what you deliver to someone with no RPL. Already that's an issue, as we don't have a set OTJ per Standard. One employer might want to do it in 18 months, another in 20 months, and the OTJ will flex to fill the 6 hours a week requirement. OTJ is determined by duration, not vice versa.

If you reduce the OTJ hours, you have to reduce the price in proportion with that, that's reasonably straightforward, but only if you know what your "usual" OTJ would have been, which is not always clear.

If you reduce the OTJ, you're also supposed to do the same with the duration, except where you can't. In that case, where you're not reducing duration because of delivery model, I think we are supposed to still reduce OTJ based on what we've omitted (73). I think when they say "funded hours", they mean that Planned OTJ hours you report should be only the OTJ hours you got when you took the stuff you can omit off the usual OTJ. That makes sense of the bit that says, in reference to not being able to reduce the duration even with RPL:

If the employer and apprentice agree that they should not attend the unfunded elements of the programme, the apprentice must remain involved in active learning. This is a requirement of the funding rules.

So, I think what they're expecting us to do, is reduce the Planned OTJ based on RPL, regardless of duration, even if we fully intend for them to attend the bits they don't strictly need. That then gets to your point, that this reduced OTJ without an accompanying reduced duration, leads to the apprentice looking like they're not hitting 6 hours a week. 73.1 goes on to say an apprentice must achieve 20% (or 6 hours a week) over the "funded element" of the planned duration, but if the "funded element" doesn't include the little pockets here and there that the apprentices doesn't need, that makes it impossible for FRM37 to accurately reflect this as it's purely based on full duration. If we're reducing the OTJ but not duration, it will show up as wrong.

Where we can't reduce duration, we previously reduced the price, but just reported the Planned OTJ as 6 hours a week for the full duration, even if we know there's content they don't need to do. That will explain why DAS doesn't like it and tells us our price/OTJ reductions don't match.

This concept of the "funded element of the duration" just doesn't make sense if the error reports are just working on full duration.

I just can't see a version of this where all the guidance and error reports fit together and makes sense.

Martin West

I expect they will include this rational in FRM37 for next year but remember this would only apply to delivery cohorts with a fixed end date.


Recording recognition of prior learning on the apprenticeship service

We have introduced functionality in the apprenticeship service to help you calculate price reductions due to recognition of prior learning.

We currently capture the reduction in:

  • weeks for training due to prior learning
  • price for training due to prior learning, in whole pounds

From the end of November, when adding an apprentice, you’ll see 3 extra fields to capture recognised prior learning details. These fields will initially be optional when adding a bulk upload file, but will become mandatory.

We’ll capture:

  • the total off-the-job training time for the apprenticeship standard before any reductions, in whole hours
  • the reduction in off-the-job training time due to recognition of prior learning, in whole hours
  • whether or not you have reduced the duration of the apprentice due to recognition of prior learning

We’ll use these fields to check the price reduction you have entered. If we suspect an error, we’ll ask you to review your calculation. If we think you’ve made an error, the service will show you the correct price reduction and ask you to check it. This calculation will use your figures and the funding rules.


Ben Bullers

Many thanks for your reply Ruth

I must have read P73 50 times now and my interpretation is that they DO want us to report the OTJ hours below the minimum required for the duration if there is RPL but that contradicts FRM37 so the number of apprentices appearing on there is going to increase exponentially unless they amend it to take account of price reduction from fund band max. That then breaks the direct link between duration and OTJ hours that has always been there since the reforms came in.

Does anyone know of any webinar or anything else that might be arriving for a bit of clarification? I know SDN have got one on the 29th but I'd much prefer to get it straight from the ESFA but can't see anything publicised?

Apparently feed back to rule changes is open until 26th April by e-mailing:

I'm going to feedback that they need to be explicit if they are saying that for an apprentice with RPL, following a cohort delivery model, the OTJ hours reported in the ILR may not meet the 6 hours a week calculation for the duration of the programme.

Ben Bullers

Thanks Martin

Steve Hewitt

Perhaps a little devil's advocate here, but isn't this only a problem if you're planning 6 hours a week? If you were planning 7 or 7.5 a week, little bits like this wouldn't lead to a learner falling under 6 even if the duration was the same? Still an issue if they don't need to do a whole module in the middle of the programme I admit...

Ruth Canham-James

Yes, delivering more hours does solve a number of these, but the guidance shouldn't be this unclear. The main reason we don't plan much more than 6 hours is because many employers don't want it! They don't want to release their staff for more than is required. Another of the reasons teams don't like putting much more than the minimum as the plan, is so they don't have to get it signed off by the employer where they finish early and the Actual OTJ is lower than the Planned OTJ. If you plan 6 hours a week, but actually the apprentice does extra bits here and there (not necessarily planned), and they then finish early, they've often met the Planned OTJ already, so no form required. If you plan 7 hours a week, there's a greater likelihood that early completers won't have hit the original Planned OTJ. When the paperwork burden is as high as it is already, nobody wants more stuff to get signed off if they can avoid it.

I've fed back about the rules around RPL now. Also, I did make the point that you did earlier Steve. What if there is RPL, but we can't omit any delivery, as all the delivery for stuff they can and can't do is so inextricably linked? Can we charge the full price if we're confident we can't omit any delivery as a result of the RPL? How do we justify that to an auditor without taking them though our whole delivery plan in minute detail? You know auditors will not just accept our reasoning that easily.

Steve Hewitt

Good points, well made ;)

Wayne Hosking


Noticed they have binned in the Draft v1 the "P73 Calculating off-the-job training (for fixed date cohort delivery, 
with prior learning reported in the apprenticeship service) "

In 24/25 Final v1, "28.1.2 If the provider cannot reduce the duration, they must still meet the minimum requirements of the off-the-job training policy for the full duration of the apprenticeship that has been reported to us in the ILR."

Cannot see anything else in the final rules?

kind regards