ESFA reveals spending and audit rules for £96m 16-19 Covid tutoring fund

Colleges and other 16 to 19 providers will be paid at least an additional £150 per disadvantaged learner next year to help them catch-up with the studies they missed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

But providers will need to prove that the funding has been spent to support tuition activity “above and beyond the programmes of education already planned for 2020/21” and funds will be recovered if this cannot be demonstrated.

Providers’ use of the funding may also be taken into account by Ofsted in future inspections.

The Education Skills Funding Agency today revealed the spending and audit rules for the £96 million 16 to 19 tutoring fund that is being granted next year as part of their £1 billion Covid catch-up scheme.

Colleges and 16 to 19 providers were originally excluded from the fund but the government U-turned on this decision earlier this week.

The ESFA said today that providers using the fund need to consider what will be “most effective for their students, considering students’ needs and local circumstances”.

Providers have “flexibility” to decide the most appropriate approach to resourcing the delivery of small group tuition.

This “may include a mix of both teaching and learning support staff as appropriate” and resourcing “could be through paying for more hours from existing staff, hiring new staff, or buying in a service from a third party provider”.

The agency made clear that the tuition fund is ring-fenced for 16 to 19 small group tuition only.

They will allocate the funding using the agency’s “existing proxy measure” for disadvantage: learners with low prior attainment, meaning those who did not have a GCSE grade 4 or above in English and / or maths at age 16.

The ESFA will allocate each provider “£150 per instance for full time students without GCSE grade 4 or above in English and/or maths based on the numbers in their current 2020 to 2021 academic year allocation”. There will be pro-rata funding for part time students.

The extra funding will be paid through 16 to 19 funding allocations for 2020 to 2021 academic year and providers will start to receive payments from November 2020.

Providers “must accept or decline the extra funding once we have confirmed funding amounts in August” and the agency will only distribute the funding to those providers that “confirm they will be able to spend this effectively and in line with this guidance”.

All providers, as a condition of the receipt of this funding must:

    produce a concise statement explaining how they will use this funding in line with our guidance to prioritise support for disadvantaged students

    publish the statement on their website in the autumn term

    record the use of the funding, including reference to the individual students that receive the support, the needs of those students, the number of hours of tuition delivered, and retain the necessary evidence of the tuition provided,

    deliver the extra tuition and spend the associated funding in the 2020 to 2021 academic year

    notify ESFA of any unspent funding from this fund for it to be reclaimed

The ESFA said it will run “spot-checks” of a sample of providers as part of the compliance process for this funding.

“We will look for evidence that institutions have used their tuition fund correctly, that is, the funding has supported additional small group tuition for 16 to 19 students in English, maths, or other courses where learning has been disrupted, and that delivery has been in the 2020 to 2021 academic year,” the agency continued.

“Institutions must be able to identify the students supported, and evidence the delivery of provision to the students. In line with usual practice, institutions must retain original documents including, for example, attendance records, enrolment records and learning agreements.”

The ESFA will look to recover funds where there is no delivery or where “we identify the institution is not able to demonstrate at spot checks, or audit how the delivery meets the purposes set out in this guidance”.

Providers’ use of these funds to deliver small group tuition “may also be taken into account by Ofsted, including through the interim visits planned for the autumn term and through full inspection, which is intended to resume from January 2021”.