The ESFA has threatened to move the deadlines for individualised learner records (ILR) forward because it reckons too many providers submit on the last day.
The threat has sparked anguish from colleges and ITPs across the country – and one disgruntled person has even asked the agency not to “keep beating us with a stick”.
“Providers continue to submit their ILRs on the last day of the data submission period, or submit multiple files within the return window,” said the ESFA said in an online update bulletin on its FE Connect portal this week.
“As previously advised, if providers continue to make late or multiple file submissions, we may need to consider bringing forward the monthly ILR deadlines.”
It would cause issues if they were to shorten the window, it’s not open for enough time during the month
The data is used to determine public funding, and bringing forward the deadline would be a stretch for providers, as it is currently due on the fourth working day of every month.
The bulletin also implied that multiple files shouldn’t be sent, as providers should concentrate on getting submissions right first time.
Many users labelled this unreasonable, given that the system is designed to be used in this way.
“Please ensure your individualised learner records (ILRs) are submitted as early as possible in the returns window, and apprentice data is only submitted when it’s been matched and agreed with your employer (to prevent validation errors),” the bulletin read.
Several people spoke out on FE Connect.
“We really have enough to worry about these days in FE so please ESFA, think about your communications and work with the industry to make it better. Don’t keep beating us with a stick,” wrote one user.
“It would cause issues if they were to shorten the window, it’s not open for enough time during the month as it is in my opinion,” another warned.
“I submit multiple times throughout the month to keep on top of things,” said another.
The ESFA could not explain how shortening the deadline would help providers complete the necessary work.
A spokesperson stressed that multiple submissions were not banned, and recognised the need in “certain situations”, but said there had been an increase that could be avoided.
Current submission numbers are up to an average of 4.2 submissions per provider (4,424 files from 1,042 providers), from 3.8 the month before (3,374 files from 890 providers).