- Qualification funding approval principles
- Funding rules, rates and formula
- How we define funding approval
- Funding approval moratorium
- Withdrawal of funding approval from pre-existing qualifications
- Withdrawal of funding approval from qualifications with low and no enrolments
- How this website has changed
- Performance tables
- School census and QAN codes
- Qualifications and courses in academies and maintained schools
- Contact us
Qualification funding approval principles
The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) publishes the funding approval principles that we apply when we consider qualifications for funding. The guidance also explains how and when we review qualifications for funding approval.
Funding rules, rates and formula
We publish the rules that apply to all provision that we fund. You can these rules on the GOV.UK website.
- ESFA funded adult education budget (AEB)
- Young people's funding
- Advanced learner loans
- European Social Fund (ESF)
How we define funding approval
We look at the content that awarding organisations specify for each qualification, and we decide whether each qualification meets our approval principles for public funding. This can include looking at a qualification’s title, level, size, sector subject area, operational start and end dates, as well as the qualification specification published by the awarding organisation.
We use the term ‘funding approval’ to show where we add a qualification to at least one of our funded offers.
We also review qualifications to see if they meet our principles for funding through advanced learner loans. We do not fund the delivery of qualifications through loans, but we do decide which qualifications a student can study with a loan.
Funding approval moratorium
In the first stage consultation document on the review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below, we said that we would stop approving any new qualifications at level 3 and below for funding, for students aged 16 and over.
From 1 September 2020, we stopped considering new regulated qualifications at level 3 and below for funding approval, for students aged 16 and over (including 19 plus). We call this a ‘moratorium’ on funding approval, and it will be in place initially for a period of three years. We will review how the moratorium is working (including the exemptions criteria) once a year.
We will continue to approve qualifications for funding in the 14 to 16 offer.
You can find more information about this in the technical guidance for the moratorium.
Withdrawal of funding approval from pre-existing qualifications
In the first stage consultation on the review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below in England, we stated our decision to withdraw funding approval from some pre-existing qualifications in the 16 to 18 performance tables.
Pre-existing qualifications are qualifications that last appeared in the 16 to 18 performance tables for 2016 or 2017 as Tech Levels or Applied General qualifications. DfE identified 163 pre-existing qualifications that are available alongside newer redeveloped qualifications in the 2020 16 to 18 performance tables. Redeveloped qualifications are Tech Levels and Applied General qualifications that met the criteria to be in the 16 to 18 performance tables from 2018 onwards.
We will remove funding approval from these pre-existing qualifications from 1 August 2020. This means there will be no publicly funded new starts on these qualifications from 1 August 2020 through:
- 16 to 19 study programmes
- level 3 statutory entitlement (funded through the AEB, irrespective of where the student resides in England)
- advanced learner loans (loans)
- European Social Fund (ESF)
We will not approve any new qualifications for funding if they are replicas of the 163 pre-existing qualifications. We are doing this to avoid a situation where pre-existing qualifications removed from funding (or replicas of pre-existing qualifications) come back into a funded offer at a later date.
Withdrawal of funding approval from qualifications with low and no enrolments
In the first stage consultation on the review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below in England, we stated our intention to withdraw funding approval for qualifications with low and no publicly funded enrolments. This is now an annual business as usual process for ESFA.
Qualifications in scope for withdrawing funding approval are those in the following funded offers:
- 16 to 19 study programmes at level 3 and below
- advanced learner loans at level 3 only
- ESFA funded AEB at level 3 and below, including the statutory entitlements and local flexibility
- European Social Fund (ESF) at level 3 and below
We publish lists of qualifications that meet the criteria for having low and no enrolments. You can find more information about how we identified these qualifications in the published technical guidance.
We will remove funding approval from these qualifications after the dates we specify, which means there will be no publicly funded new starts on these qualifications from these dates. This will not affect funding for qualifications taken by students aged 14 to 16 (at Key Stage 4), traineeships, and apprenticeships.
How this website has changed
We previously used this website to publish funding approval information for qualifications in the 14 to 16 and 16 to 19 funded qualification offers. These offers used to be known as Section 96.
- The 14 to 16 offer covers qualifications that are available for the age group Pre-16 in Ofqual’s Register of Regulated Qualifications.
- The 16 to 19 offer covers qualifications that are available for two age groups in Ofqual’s Register of Regulated Qualifications: 16 to 18, and 18+.
If we have approved a qualification only for funding to students aged 18 and over, we will state this in the funding approval information for that qualification on this website. This website will no longer display separate funding approval start and end dates for the 16 to 18 and 18+ age groups.
We have split our previous offer for young people aged 14 to 19 into these two offers because from 1 September 2020, we will stop approving new qualifications at level 3 and below for funding, for students aged 16 and over. We call this a ‘moratorium’ on funding approval, and we will continue to approve qualifications for funding in the 14 to 16 offer. You can read more about this in the technical guidance for the moratorium.
We have expanded this website to include funding approval information for qualifications in all our funded offers, except apprenticeships and traineeships. These offers cover delivering qualifications to both young people and adults.
This website shows the funding approval start and end dates for each qualification, where we have approved it for funding through at least one of our qualification offers. Some approval start dates may not match the funding validity dates displayed on the Find a Learning Aim (FALA).
For the 14 to 16 and 16 to 19 offers, we:
- have maintained the previously published funding approval start dates for qualifications that we have already approved for funding
- will set its funding approval start date to be either 1 August 2020 or its operational start date, whichever is later (if we approve a qualification for funding after 24 March 2020)
For qualifications that we have already approved for funding in our other offers, we have set the funding approval start dates to be the same as the funding validity start dates in FALA. If any of these approval start dates were before 1 August 2016, we have set them to 1 August 2016 on this website. If we approve a qualification for funding in these other funded offers after 24 March 2020, we will set its funding approval start date(s) to be either 1 August 2020 or its operational start date, whichever is later.
The Department for Education (DfE) publishes lists of technical and vocational qualifications that are approved for reporting in school performance tables.
You can find more information about performance tables on the GOV.UK website. If you have any queries about performance tables, please send them to the DfE through its online form.
School census and QAN codes
If you want to find the correct qualification accreditation number (QAN) for a qualification, you can search for this on the DfE QAN website.
Qualifications and courses in academies and maintained schools
Qualifications must be approved for funding for 14 to 19 before some providers (such as academies and maintained schools) can offer them to young people. In exceptional circumstances, individual academies may offer a course leading to a qualification without approval, under the terms of the model funding agreement. In these circumstances, the academy must email Qualifications.ESFA@education.gov.uk.
If you are a provider of education and training and you have about funding approval for qualifications, please use the ESFA enquiry form.
If you are an awarding organisation and have any queries on the qualification funding approval process, please email Qualifications.ESFA@education.gov.uk.