2013-14 Missed Opportunities for Simplification and Reducing the Data Burden

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Tony Braithwaite 7 years, 5 months ago.

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  • Caspar Verney

    My reason for starting this thread is to gather opinions from the community about whether there are any missed opportunities for Simplification and Reducing the Data Burden in 2013-14.

    I have several examples which I shall post about separately, but there may be others that different people can see and I would encourage them to post here.

    Hopefully the IA can absorb these suggestions for 2014-15.

    Many thanks,


    Caspar Verney

    Firstly I shall start with a premise of a good example of Simplification and Reducing the Data Burden.

    In 2011-12 we had to complete both the Employer ID and the Employer’s Workplace Postcode. In 2012-13 it was recognised that the PostCode could be derived from the EmployerID by using other look-ups and so we no longer have to complete the Workplace Postcode and the field is gone from the ILR Specification.


    Caspar Verney

    Now an example of where I think improvement is possible:

    SOF (Source of Funding) – according to the 2013-14 ILR Specification if the FundModel is 10 or 35 or 70 or 81 then it must always be 105. If FundModel is 82 then SOF must be 107. In other words SOF can be derived from other data in all of these cases. In fact SOF can only be different (and therefore required) when FundModel is 25 or 99.

    The SOF fields have reduced from 2 in 2012-13 to 1 in 2013-14, however for Apprenticeships it has been moved from the Program Aim onto all Aims (including the Program Aim) and so that represents an increase in Data Burden for Apprenticeships. Does anyone understand why it has to be recorded more times for an Apprenticeship?


    Caspar Verney

    Another example:

    FFI (Full or co-Funding Indicator) – Only applies to SFA Funded Adult Skills (FundModel = 35). Co-funding only occurs when a learner is aged 19 or over. Student age can be calculated from their Date of Birth and the Start Date of the learning Program. Funding source and type of learning can be derived from other fields already returned. Therefore FFI is only required when the student needs to be funded at a different rate to that derived from the other data, ie only in exception. In such a case the EEF (Eligibility for Enhanced apprenticeship Funding) field does it for you when the FundModel is 35 and hence the FFI field is totally redundant in my opinion – anyone see this one differently?


    Caspar Verney

    Another example:

    Framework & Pathway Codes – these are found in the LARA. Where there is only one choice for either or both against any one Learning Aim then why should it be entered if it can be derived from existing standing data?


    Caspar Verney

    Completion Status (A34) – a value of 1 is requested if the learner is continuing on the aim and a value of Null or is not currently accepted. Why not remove the value of 1 and make the value of Null or valid and therefore, by definition, mean that the learner is continuing. Thus the field would only need to be completed when the learner is not continuing.



    Well, EEF and FFI serve slightly different purposes: FFI indicates whether or not an employer contribution is assumed, while EEF affects the funding line. I can imagine that, in principle at least, a learner given 16-18 funding might still be subject to an employer contribution, or vice versa.


    Simon France

    Hi Caspar,

    Well done for starting this thread.

    SOF: I agree entirely.

    FFI: I’m not sure I can regard it as redundant. I can understand that Employment Status, Benefit Status, Date Of Birth, Learning Aim Data and Prior Attainment values can all be used to derive the value for this field. However, will they cover all possiblilties? EEF cannot be used for classroom-based Adult Skills.

    Framework & Pathway codes: I can’t comment as they don’t apply to us.

    Completion Status: I agree but I’m not sure it reduces any burden. By default, our MI System will record 1 anyway.



    yeah, not sure about your definition of FFI there? loads of 19+ learners can be fully funded (certainly in classroom based ASB) for reasons not attached to their age or aim. Although now we’re collecting Benefit Status Indicator in the employment fields we do have *almost* a full set of reasons elsewhere…



    of course, we used to have a field, A11a, that told us all of these things in one place without the need to derive anything, which made querying data a heck of a lot easier…


    Tony Braithwaite

    Useful thread Caspar.

    Pretty much in agreement with Simon.

    On Framework and Pathway for apprenticeships it is possible that an aim can be a component of more than one framework and there are cetainly multiple pathways for the same learning aim code so it would be difficult to analyse which apprenticeships the learner is undertaking.

    On a wider view, the tweaking of various bits of data in the ILR is not really reducing burden in my opinion, there are ways of getting your MIS to apply rules to set other values, so apart from getting your mind around the rules its not that onerous. What is a burden is all the pre-enrolment questions you have to ask of a student in order to decide what data to use in their ILR. As has been evidenced by the many emails on CMIS, and the changes I have had to make to the fees eligibility flow chart as things have become a little clearer, is that this is far from a simple or burden and bureaucracy free process.

    Computer systems are great a cruching numbers no matter how complex the forumla, what they can’t do easily is help people interpret the many and varied rules that may or may not allow them to have funded learning.


    Martin West

    Pretty much in agreement with Tony

    Although I can understand the reason behind this thread all of these ILR fields are from the system subset and the reason and rationale for their use is already documented so would it not be more appropriate to ask why we are still returning all system fields when the ULN is returned.

    The ULN was first introduced in 2006 and yet we are still in the position where most of us still have to collect data for individual learners on paper forms and learners do not use or know about their PLR.
    I expect we will be told that they are making progress and that one day the MIAP Vision will benefit providers and learners alike but is it now the time to dump the whole system as cost savings can be made together with a reduction in the data burden on providers when collecting the ULN for a system that does not show any signs of working in the foreseeable future.

    It is not a data burden to record on the ILR data that we already collect or which we can obtain easily.


    Martin West

    Hi Tony,
    I have seen your fees eligibility flowchart and wonder if you have considered the following
    In 2012/13 the funding Rules stated that ‘All 19+ Apprenticeships competency and technical knowledge qualifications will be co-funded’, this was not qualified for those who qualified for full funding eligibility as is included this year in par. 43.
    43. The following learners will be entitled to co-funding for their learning programme unless they qualify for full funding under paragraph 42.
    42 The following learners will be entitled to full funding for their learning programme
    Learners aged 19 to 23
    42.11. An individual studying their first full level-2 qualification.
    42.12. An individual studying their first full level-3 qualification.
    Has the change for 2013/14 been made to bring all delivery within the ASB in line with the same eligibility to full funding and would eligibility for those aged 19-23 for full funding now applied to Apprenticeship learners without a prior level2/3?

    I read it as so but we may need clarification from the funding team what do you think?


    Tony Braithwaite

    Hi Martin,

    Thanks for your comments. I also agree with your sentiment that ideally the ULN should be the only identifier required together with the delivery details – if only!

    With regard to Apprenticeship co-funding, paragraph 49 of Annex 1 states that:

    49. We co-fund all Apprenticeship frameworks started on or after the apprentice’s 19th birthday…..

    So, I think the answer to your question is no, full funding would not be granted to an apprentice who does not hold their first full level 2 or 3. BIS are quite determined that the employer should make a contribution towards an apprentice’s training.

    It is for this reason, particularly when TTG was at it’s height, but still in effect today, that we found that more adults were just undertaking their first full NVQ rather than the apprenticeship, although that is beginning to change now as the full apprenticeship frameworks are being better recognised.


    Martin West

    Hi Tony,
    Yes I think the problem is in understanding the intention of the rules as the clarity does not in my opinion meet the crystal mark.

    On first reading I thought that they had taken the sensible step of removing the anomaly that provided full funding for some (Par.43.5)on WPL (old TTG SME) which required no employer contribution when for 19+ Apprenticeships it was mandatory excepting for those where enhanced funding applied. I have found that providers and employers do still use WPL due to the availability of full funding instead of the preferred Apprenticeship route and had incorrectly thought that the SFA had sought to correct this with Par.43 but as you point out Par.49 reaffirms the requirement for co-funding.

    I could go out on a limb and suggest that you could include those who qualify for full funding under paragraph 42 as being entitled to enhanced funding so then full funding would apply under Par 49.1 but that would be stretching it a bit even for me.

    Why do you think that they have left us this year to produce our own charts and flow charts, could it be that they are just as confused as we are/were?


    Tony Braithwaite

    Like others I was disappointed to see that the contributions matrix that was in the 2012/13 funding rules was not replicated in the 2013/14 ones, although I think some people were told it was going to be in version 2. I wonder if it was because the additional caveats made it too difficult to put in grid format. In my opinion I think it is still worthwhile to have some for of diagrammatic representation of rules – if nothing else it makes it easier for software developers to try and apply the rules to ‘intelligent’ interfaces and it was this that led me to draw up the flowchart. We are hoping that we might be able to build the logic into a self service enrolment system that will help to work out the correct fees to charge.

    I wonder if I could sell my flowchart to the SFA.

    I’ve just looked up the Crystal Mark website and come across the sentence below in relation to the standard:

    We do not expect a document about a complicated topic to be as easy to understand as one about a simple topic. But we do expect each document to be as clear as possible for its intended readers.

    Yes Funding is complicated but are the Funding Rules as clear as possible to its itended readers? I wonder who said it was?

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