Revealed: How DfE will fund the school and college leavers scheme and list of eligible courses

The Department for Education has published details of how it will fund the £101 million school and college leavers scheme, as well as a list of 355 eligible courses.

The programme, announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak during his summer statement last week, will give 18 and 19 year olds who are struggling to find work due to Covid-19 the opportunity to study “targeted” level 2 and 3 courses for a third year free of charge.

Here is what you need to know.



The one-year offer will include a £400 “uplift” per learner to cover the costs of putting on additional courses at short notice, recruiting extra students, and preparing staffing and facilities

The DfE said the offer will also include “adjustments to retention payments and job outcome payments to compensate where learners leave early and take up employment or an apprenticeship”.

The funding for 18 year olds will be through 16 to 19 study programme rates but 19 year olds will be funded through the adult education budget.

The department said it will fund 18-year-olds on “larger programmes” at the rate for 16 and 17-year-olds.

The normal funding rate for 16 and 17 year olds, for 2020/21, is £4,188 per student but this drops to £3,455 for 18 year olds.

The DfE said the Education and Skills Funding Agency will administer the additional funding via 16 to 19 funding and the adult education budget to support delivery from September 1, 2020.

Further information about funding for both age groups is expected to be published before the end of this month.


Payments for 18-year-olds

The DfE said they will determine the number of additional students from a provider’s “R04 data return” and the autumn census compared to delivery in the previous year and make a “programme payment in-year (subject to affordability)”.

“We will amend 2020 to 2021 allocations accordingly and reprofile across the rest of the year.”

As these students will be recorded as “lagged” student numbers, the programme funding element paid in-year will be “offset against future funding”.

The £400 uplift will not be offset. The 16 to 19 year-old bursary fund allocations will be “adjusted where appropriate to reflect the extra 18-year-olds”.

The DfE added that they will retain some funding for enrolments “later in the year”.

“Providers will receive the uplift for students enrolled after November 2020 in the 2021 to 2022 academic year, and the programme funding in the 2022 to 2023 academic year. The intention is to maximise in-year payments based on the available budget.”


Payments for 19-year-olds

The DfE said they will allocate the “additional ESFA AEB before the end of August 2020” to providers.

“We will distribute funding using a consistent calculation taking into account delivery in 2018 to 2019, historic delivery of the qualifications in scope, affordability and track record requirements in the published performance management rules.

“The additional funding will be ringfenced within your ESFA AEB and be performance managed separately.”

The department added that learners will be fully funded to undertake a qualification from the agreed list (see below) including those who already hold a level 2 and level 3 qualification.

For those wishing to undertake a subsequent level 3 this means they will not be required to take out an advanced learner loan.


List of eligible qualifications

The DfE confirmed the one-year offer will enable 18 and 19-year-olds leaving education and training who are unable to find employment or work-based training, opportunities to be fully funded to undertake specific level 2 and level 3 qualifications that have been identified as “relevant to higher wage returns and economic growth opportunities”.

There are 355 courses in total, 155 of which are at level 2 and 200 at level 3. They are a range of A-levels and vocational and technical qualifications including applied generals such as BTECs.

Subject areas include building and construction, engineering, health and social care, ICT practitioners, manufacturing technologies, maths and statistics, medicine and dentistry, nursing, science and transportation.

The DfE said providers will need to “demonstrate how courses through this offer support employment outcomes, and evidence of need for skills in their local area”.

Download the full list here.

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