Guidance

16 to 19 funding study programmes: work experience

Information on funding work experience in 16 to 19 study programmes.

Funding guidance

The requirements for funding work experience are incorporated in the 16 to 19 funding regulations for 2016 to 2017 academic year.

This note provides further information on work experience and how it is funded.

Purpose of work experience

Work experience enables a young person to spend time on an employer’s premises, observing the workplace, undertaking tasks (under supervision) alongside adults working there, and learning the skills and behaviours needed at work.

Work experience is designed to bridge the gap between education and the world of work. It can help young people become aware of jobs they have not previously thought of, help inform career choices, offer a chance to prove themselves to an employer, enable young people to develop the relevant occupational skills and help instil the attitudes and behaviours expected at work. Further details of what is expected from quality work experience can be found on GOV.UK.

Study programmes

All 16 to 19 year old students are funded for an individual study programme. Most study programmes have a core aim. The core aim of a study programme is a substantial qualification which can be academic or vocational or work experience.

The study programme must be tailored to the prior attainment of each individual student, have clear study and/or employment goals reflecting the student’s prior attainment and should include

  • substantial qualifications or work experience
  • maths and English for students who have not achieved grade A* to C, GCSE, new GCSE 9 to 4 or equivalent qualification in these subjects by age 16
  • high-quality work experience
  • added value non-qualification activity

How work experience is funded within study programmes

This information outlines how work experience fits within study programmes and how it is funded.

Work experience is funded on the standard 16 to 19 national funding methodology, that is, the planned hours are included in the total planned hours for each student’s study programme.

Qualifying for funding

To qualify for funding as planned hours work experience must

  • be hours directly relevant to the student’s study programme
  • be planned, explicit in the student’s timetable or learning plan
  • be within the normal pattern of attendance at the institution
  • be supervised and/or organised by a member of staff

The way work experience is funded and recorded is dependent on the role it is filling within the study programme. This can be

  • as the core aim of a study programme, including as a traineeship where work experience must be the core aim
  • where it is within a vocational qualification that has learning in the workplace as an essential element
  • where the work experience is an enrichment activity

Funding and recording work experience as the core aim of a study programme

A student can have work experience as the core aim of their study programme and this must be external, that is

  • it takes place with an external employer
  • it is on a site external to the learning environment

The requirement for the work experience to be external applies even where the institution has extensive facilities mirroring the workplace.

This should be recorded as non-qualification hours which are called planned employability, enrichment and pastoral hours (EEP hours) in the individualised learner record (ILR) and school census. In addition to recording EEP hours, the work experience has to be recorded as one of the 5 work experience aims in the ILR/school census.

Funding and recording work experience where it is within a vocational qualification that has work experience as an essential element

Some vocational qualifications have work experience as an essential element. Here the purpose of the work experience element is to provide the student with the opportunity to practice skills in a supervised environment. This applied learning and practical training could take place in an institution’s workshop such as, or a college hairdressing salon, or on a college farm. It could also take place on employers’ premises.

This activity should be recorded within qualification planned hours on the ILR/census and not duplicated as employability, enrichment and pastoral hours. The qualification and not the work experience is the core aim of the study programme. The hours for the whole qualification including the work experience element are recorded in the planned qualification hours field. There is no requirement to also record one of the 5 work experience aims in the ILR/school census.

Funding and recording work experience as an enrichment activity

Students can do work experience as an enrichment activity, such as for those students whose study programme is academic, or where work experience is not required as part of the qualification. Work experience as an enrichment activity can add value to the study programme by preparing students for work. It enables them to explore the careers linked to the academic or vocational subjects they are studying and helps with their choice of further or higher education.

Where work experience is not required as part of the qualification but is an enrichment activity, this should be recorded as planned non-qualification hours which are called planned employability, enrichment and pastoral hours (EEP) in the ILR/school census. In these circumstances, the work experience also has to be recorded as one of the 5 work experience aims in the ILR/school census.

Traineeships and work experience

The purpose of traineeships is to prepare young people for employment so that they are able to progress successfully to apprenticeships and other sustainable jobs.

Work experience in traineeships should give the young person experience of a real workplace so they can develop the skills, knowledge, confidence, attitudes and behaviours they need to succeed at work. Ideally, this should be with an external employer, external to the learning environment and at an external site. However, exceptions to this will be funded. See under work experience within local authorities below.

Institutions will need to make a judgment about whether their work placements genuinely provide students with the experiences they need to develop the work-related attributes expected of a traineeship. Ultimately Ofsted make judgments about the suitability of these arrangements through inspection and grading of institutions.

Activity in a simulated work environment may well form a helpful part of work preparation training but will not count as work placements for the purpose of traineeships or other study programmes.

Work experience delivered as part of a traineeship programme must be recorded as the core aim of the study programme. If a student does multiple work experience placements, these should not be recorded as separate learning aims. Instead a single learning aim must be recorded that reflects the total hours across all the placements.

The difference between the core aim in a traineeship and the core aim of work experience in a study programme

Traineeships are for young people who are within 6 months of securing an apprenticeship or employment with training. Traineeships provide a national identity and brand which is valued by young people and employers, that has clear progression routes, which is one of the main features. Traineeship vacancies can be advertised via apprenticeships on line.

A study programme with a core aim of external work experience requires the student to have a work placement. It is possible for a student to progress from a study programme with a core aim of work experience to a traineeship, and this model is operating successfully in a number of institutions. Institutions need to be sure that the traineeship is adding value for the student and that the same activity is not being funded twice.

See the traineeships fact sheet for more details

Supported internships and work experience

A supported internship is only available to students with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). A supported internship is a structured study programme where the student is based primarily with an employer for extended work experience. Supported internships are intended to help students obtain sustainable paid employment by equipping them with the skills for work through learning in the workplace. The internship normally lasts for a year and includes an unpaid work placement of at least 6 months.

A work placement within a supported internship study programme has to be planned, organised and supervised by the institution as with any other work experience. This should be recorded as non-qualification hours which are called planned employability, enrichment and pastoral hours (EEP) in the ILR/school census. In addition the work experience has to be recorded as one of the 5 work experience aims in the ILR/school census.

Internal work experience

Activities that reproduce aspects of the work environment, including working environments such as college restaurants, hairdressing salons or car repair centres, can take place within the educational institution and will be funded. This could be an option for a student who needs support in going from a safe school/college environment to the workplace. It can be a valuable part of work preparation training.

This can apply in hazardous occupations, such as agriculture or forestry, where skills and experience need to be developed under supervision on college farms or estates, so that students can operate safely on external work experience. It can also meet awarding body requirements for accreditation.

These activities are defined as internal work experience. If these activities are an integral part of the qualification then they should be recorded as qualification hours. If not they should be recorded as planned non-qualification hours which are called planned employability, enrichment and pastoral hours (EEP) in the ILR/school census. It should not be counted or recorded as external work experience.

Students who work part time and work experience

Part time paid work, such as evening or Saturday work, does not fulfil the role of work experience and is not fundable as work experience. The actual hours of the student’s employment are not to be included in any data returns.

Students often think their part time work does count as funded work experience but this is not the case and such activity isn’t normally funded. This is because the main purpose is for the student to earn money, not the learning. Also the institution has not organised it in conjunction with the employer, therefore it is not based around what the student will learn by being in a work environment.

There may be exceptions,such as students in studio schools may undertake paid employment, in such cases the main objective remains work experience (rather than earning money), learning objectives are agreed and the full criteria for funding planned hours is to be met.

Work experience organised by the student

Any work experience organised by the student without the involvement of their institution should not be included as either a learning aim or within the student’s planned hours. This is because it does not meet the requirements for funding planned hours. This is set out in the paragraph headed qualifying for funding.

Work experience within local authorities

A number of local authorities have a training arm, but direct provision of training is not the local authority’s core business. In these circumstances work experience within local authority departments, which are separate to the training arm, is fundable and is counted as external work experience.

Local authorities offering work experience within their organisation must be able to evidence whether or not the work experience opportunities they offer are sufficient to meet the purpose of work experience. They should ensure that the evidence is sufficient to satisfy any challenge and to satisfy Ofsted.

How Ofsted will assess work experience

Ofsted will look to see how the work experience has given the student the opportunity to contribute to and benefit from the learning programme, and how it has prepared them for employment. They will assess whether the work experience is both purposeful and planned, and whether it gives young people the opportunity to develop vocational and employability skills in real working conditions.

Ofsted will look to see what the progression is for the student on their study programme. If it is progression to higher education, there would be no automatic expectation to see external work experience included in the programme. If it is to an apprenticeship or work, Ofsted will normally expect the student’s study programme to include work experience with an external employer.

Institutions’ working environments such as college companies provide good opportunities for students to develop initial vocational skills, knowledge and employability skills. However, students should progress to external work experience at the earliest opportunity especially if work experience is a substantial part of their study programme. When inspected, Ofsted would look for evidence that the simulated work experience has been purposeful, and look at what value the young person has gained from the experience.

Further guidance on recording work experience and traineeships

The ILR provider support manual can be found on GOV.UK.

Full details on the traineeships programme can be found on GOV.UK.

Data collection for ILR users

All work experience should be recorded on the ILR and identified to show whether the student did internal or external work experience or both.

To record the total amount of external work experience a student has done in the academic year, the code for the work experience band, in which the total hours of work experience falls should also be entered on the ILR. It should be recorded as a separate aim in each academic year. A student can do more than one placement per academic year in which case the total hours through the academic year should be recorded.

Institutions should ensure their data is accurate before the final return.

For internal work experience, irrespective of the total hours delivered for the academic year, the aim code Z0007834 must be used.

Demonstrating how the work experience core aim has been achieved

There is no precise definition for achieved in work experience (unlike qualifications which are achieved via exams or assessment through a portfolio). It is for institutions to interpret this at local level. What is important is whether the objectives of the work experience have been achieved. The student would need to have achieved what was intended through the work experience.

If the student attends for fewer than their planned hours, or leaves early, as long as they move into a positive destination which is defined as sustainable paid employment, FE/HE or an Apprenticeship (as in paragraph 36 of Funding rates and formula for 2016 to 2017) then they have achieved the work experience core aim and this can be entered on the ILR as completed and achieved.

Withdrawing from part of a study programme

A student who withdraws from part of their study programme should make up the time with other meaningful activity, either qualification or non-qualification hours.

Data collection for census users

All work experience should be recorded on the school census and identified to show whether the student did internal or external work experience or both.

To record the total amount of external work experience a student has done in the academic year, the code for the work experience band in which the total hours of work experience falls should also be entered on the school census. It should be recorded as a separate aim in each academic year. A student can do more than one placement per academic year in which case the total hours through the academic year should be recorded.

Institutions should ensure their data is accurate before the final return.

For internal work experience, irrespective of the total hours delivered for the academic year, the aim code Z0007834 must be used.

Further guidance is available on completing the school census can be found on GOV.UK.

Further information on work experience and study programmes

Wolf report on vocational education

The review of vocational education found evidence that external work experience gives students a much richer experience of work and improves their readiness for work and their opportunities for paid work.

The Wolf Report containing information on the evidence for the need for external work experience can be found on GOV.UK.

DfE guidance

In October 2013 DfE published a policy document on work experience. This reinforced the importance of work experience within study programmes for 16 to 19 year olds who can benefit from it. It noted that the greatest benefits for students are where work experience is substantial and with an external employer.

Supported internships information

Further details on supported internships and work experience can be found on GOV.UK.

Making work experience work for you

Study programmes, traineeships and supported internships guide.

AoC study programme central

This website has a range of useful information including case studies on work experience.

Work experience readiness checklist

This is an AoC/DfE joint publication with details of the policy and background:

Queries on work experience

ESFA enquiries

For all enquiries for the Education and Skills Funding Agency

Content first published February 2015. Updated August 2015.

Content due for review August 2016.

Published 5 March 2015
Last updated 16 September 2016 + show all updates
  1. Updated for 2016 to 2017 academic year
  2. Updated version August 2015
  3. First published.