DfE updates Covid-19 funding plans for colleges

The Department for Education has set out further funding plans in light of the coronavirus pandemic

Kate Parker

FE funding: DfE reveal further plans in light of Covid-19

The Department for Education has published updated plans on how it will fund colleges in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The DfE said that, while it will use data from the 2019-20 academic year to calculate 16-19 allocations for 2021-22, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) may need to apply a different approach and would use alternative data sources to calculate allocations for 2021-22. 

16-19 learners

The government explained that it would take into consideration students unable to complete their course as a result of Covid-19, and the impact that would have on retention data to ensure that a downturn in student recruitment for September would not have an “unfairly detrimental impact on future allocations”. 

When it comes to the condition of funding around English and maths GCSE resits, today's updated guidance said providers would still be allocated additional funding for young people with low prior attainment in GCSE English or maths, and that as further details around exams were released, this would be considered in more detail. 

More: Why we need clarity on the adult education budget

Background: Can T-level providers be ready in September?

News: 'Disadvantaged students will lose out on assessment' 

Adult education budget

The document confirms that for 2019-20, the ESFA will not carry out the final reconciliation for grant-funded providers in receipt of the ESFA-funded adult education budget (adult skills, community learning, learner and learning support and 19-24 traineeships) and the Advanced Learner Loans Bursary Fund. These providers will be funded in line with the current agreement schedule with no clawback.

It says, however, that “providers must continue to deliver learning online wherever possible including for ESFA-funded AEB via existing sub-contracting arrangements to support existing learners to successfully complete their courses/qualifications or retain evidence where this is not possible and support furloughed workers to enhance existing or develop new skills.”

It adds: “There will be exceptions for grant-funded providers who had already forecast significant under-delivery in their mid-year returns for ESFA-funded AEB and/or Advanced Learner Loans Bursary Fund, in advance of the impact of Covid-19. 

“ESFA will contact affected providers to discuss their forecasts and potential clawback. We also reserve the right to claw back funds where it can be demonstrated that a grant-funded provider has not sought to continue delivery wherever possible online or otherwise, either directly or for ESFA-funded AEB through their existing subcontractors.

“When planning ESFA-funded AEB allocations for 2021-22, we will consider how we set a fair baseline given our default position would have been to use funded delivery in 2019-20.”

The document also confirms that where the AEB is devolved, the devolved authority is accountable for agreeing arrangements with their providers in respect of devolved AEB.

The guidance also set out further detail on funding for providers preparing to deliver T levels.

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateeParker

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