07th July 2017
The Apprenticeship Levy for Schools: Using your funds
Since the launch of the Apprenticeship Levy, schools across the UK have been trying to get up to speed with the various complex rules about what the Levy funding can and can’t be spent on.
Given the last-minute nature of changes to the legislation, there’s some conflicting or outdated advice out there, but in this blog post we’ll focus on clearing up the rules as well as offering advice on how to make the best use of your funds.
What you CAN use Levy funds for
The simple explanation to what you can use your funds for is: If your school is paying into the Levy pot, those funds, plus the 10 per cent top-up from the government, can only be used to spend on training and end point assessment (EPA) costs for new or existing apprentices.
If you’re NOT paying into the Levy (or if you have used up your funds), you can still use the government’s co-investment scheme, which sees you pay 10 per cent of the costs of training, with the government paying the rest. The same restrictions apply to these funds.
An apprenticeship can cover training and development up to Level 7 and anyone can become an apprentice as long as they meet the following criteria:
- They are employed in a real job
- They are working towards achieving an approved apprenticeship
- Their apprenticeship lasts at least 12 months
- They spend at least 20 per cent of their time on off-the-job training
- They are paid at least the relevant national minimum wage
How can you use your Levy funds?
It’s up to you how you can best make use of your funds, but there are four main apprenticeships, due as part of the new apprenticeship standards, that may be most useful for schools, whether for training new staff or upskilling existing employees:
- Teaching apprenticeship: This will act as a useful alternative to Initial Teacher Training programmes and will replicate the same entry and completion requirements. It’s expected to be available from September 2018.
- School business manager apprenticeship: These are expected to be available from late 2017 and are intended to help create a new career structure for SBMs.
- Early years apprenticeship: Another standard due to become available over the next 18 months, this will take the place of existing early years apprenticeship frameworks.
- Teaching assistant apprenticeship: This standard is due to be in place from late 2017, reflecting current best practice for the use of teaching assistants.
There’s also a range of non-teaching based apprenticeship standards, such as facilities management and IT, that can be used to bolster schools’ support staff.
What you CAN’T use Levy funds for
As suggested above, schools can’t use Apprenticeship Levy funds for paying for any training that isn’t based around an apprenticeship, and there are also restrictions on what related costs it can be used for.
So if you were hoping that the funds would cover any of the following, unfortunately, that isn’t the case:
- Travel subsidiaries
- Work placements
- Licenses needed to practice
- Setting up an apprenticeship programme within your organisation.
How it works
For both Levy payers and non-payers, your funds are managed via your Apprenticeship Service Account (ASA) and must be used to pay only training providers from the official register for the apprenticeship training and EPA costs. These must be two separate providers delivering these two distinct services.
Geography plays a role in how and where the funds can be spent. Schools in England can only use Levy funds for training employees based in England who are studying via an English apprenticeship standard.
Those who live in another devolved country, but work in England, are eligible, but English employers with staff in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland will not be able to use their funds to pay for their training.
This is an important thing to remember - the funds in your ASA pot only stay there for 24 months, so after those two years, if you haven’t used them, they will be moved into the general pot. This means that if your school has not used the funds by that time, you will effectively be paying for another business to receive apprenticeship training.
It’s also worth noting that the Levy works on a ‘pay as you go’ basis, which means some schools or multi-academy trusts may pay the Levy some months - but not others - as their payroll fluctuates.
Local authorities and the Levy
If your school is part of a local authority or multi-academy trust, the decision-making about how to access Levy funds is slightly more complicated. You will need to agree with your local authority or trust how you will get the funds to spend on apprenticeships.
Local authorities have the responsibility for making the necessary arrangements to provide schools with access to the relevant funds and the ASA will be managed at their end. So if you haven’t already started using the funds, you need to speak to your local authority or trust to find out more.
Find out more
And if you’re looking for help managing your Levy or getting started with apprenticeships in your school, be sure to take a look at our school apprenticeship services today.