16 to 19 education: independent learning providers

Information for independent learning providers (ILPs) funded by ESFA.

Information for independent learning providers

This page provides information for independent learning providers (ILPs) who receive Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) formula funding for the provision of 16 to 19 education. We consult with Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) over the contents and design of this page.

We directly fund colleges, providers, schools, academies and independent specialist providers for the provision of education and training to students aged 16 to 19 (or are aged 19 to 24 with an education, health and care (EHC) plan). Every year we review the procedures for prospective providers of education to be recognised and receive funding.

Funding allocations

We use a national funding formula to calculate an allocation of funding to each institution, each academic year. The formula is driven by student recruitment and includes factors which reflect student retention, higher cost subjects, disadvantaged students and area costs. The 16 to 19: how it works page provides an overview of 16 to 19 funding and includes further information about each element within the 16 to 19 national funding formula.

You can find information about the allocations timeline or data sources used for student numbers and funding factors on GOV.UK. The 16 to 19 education: funding allocations page provides a detailed breakdown of the data we will use to calculate funding and when you can expect your funding allocation statement.

Funding guidance

All institutions that receive ESFA formula funding for the provision of 16 to 19 education must comply with our funding guidance.

The funding guidance includes funding regulations, rates and formula, individualised learner record (ILR) returns and reconciliation arrangements, sub-contracting controls and other supporting information.

Funding reconciliation and in-year growth

ILPs with an ESFA contract are subject to adjustments for under-performance and over-performance. We reconcile the institution’s outturn against the funding allocation.

You can find further information on funding reconciliation in the ILR Return guidance. This page includes information for the current year along with previous years.

We have produced a presentation explaining funding reconciliation, which you may find helpful.

High needs students

The latest information on the high-needs funding reforms for young people aged 16 to 25 is available on GOV.UK.

Financial support for students

You can find information about financial support for students that help young people participate in education and training, including the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund, on GOV.UK.


Financial assurance and the post-16 audit code of practice

The post-16 audit code of practice (ACOP) describes the framework through which the ESFA ensure 16 to 19 education providers are accountable and have robust audit arrangements. It explains governance, audit and assurance responsibilities for a range of providers, including ILPs.

We have developed the ACOP jointly, with the consultation taking place through the Association of Colleges and Sixth Form Colleges Association.

Audit approach for 16 to 19 study programmes

We published the standard approach to undertaking funding audits for 16 to 19 study programmes. The audit approach applies directly to ILPs.


A traineeship runs for a maximum of 6 months and is designed to help young people who are focused on getting an apprenticeship or sustainable job, but who do not yet have the skills or experience to compete successfully for vacancies.

Further information about traineeships is available on GOV.UK.

Additional resources for ILPs

Market entry policy

You can find information about how to get ESFA funding for education and training for students aged 16 to 19 on GOV.UK.

Maths and English condition of funding

Information on maths and English condition of funding is available on GOV.UK and ILPs need to ensure they are compliant.

ILP funding data

The ILPs funding data for the latest full year which contains information on the funding allocations, funded outturn and reconciliation figures for those ILPs funded under contracts.

ESFA updates

We issue an update every week. You can view our updates, including the latest edition on GOV.UK.

If you are a customer at a post-16 institution (excluding academies) you can manage your subscription through the My Contact Information feature on the Information Exchange.

All other subscribers can complete our online subscription form.

Independent learning providers delivering education to compulsory school age students

We have written to ILPs that have recorded students of compulsory school age on their individualised learner record (ILR) return.

Any ILP delivering education to this age group may meet the criteria to be an independent school. If it does, then it is required to register as an independent school with the Department for Education (DfE). DfE guidance about independent school registration and what settings must register is available on GOV.UK.

We have also written to local authorities about this issue.

Letter to local authorities

ESFA enquiries

For all enquiries for the Education and Skills Funding Agency

Published 10 March 2014
Last updated 21 May 2019 + show all updates
  1. Letter to ILPs and LAs about ILPs delivering education to compulsory school age students added to page.
  2. We have added the independent learning provider funding data for academic year 2017 to 2018 (1 August 2017 to 31 July 2018).
  3. Changed references to commercial and charitable providers (CCPs) to independent learning providers (ILPs).
  4. Commercial and charitable providers funding data 2015 to 2016 has been added.
  5. General update to page
  6. Powerpoint presentation on CCP funding reconciliation 2014 to 2015 added
  7. Updated funding reconciliation and in-year growth section
  8. First published.