06th June 2019
Utilising your Apprenticeship Levy funds: advice for schools
Since the Apprenticeship Levy was launched in April 2017, schools have been trying to get to grips with the complex rules around how their contributions can and can’t be spent.
There have been numerous reforms along the way, which has led to conflicting and misleading information.
In this blog, we’ll provide you with clarification, and tell you how you can make the most of your Levy funds.
What you can use your funds for
If your school is paying into the Levy, your contributions, along with the government’s 10% top-up, can only be used for the training and end-point assessment costs for new or existing apprentices.
Schools who aren’t paying into the Levy (or those who have used up all their funds) can still take advantage of the government’s co-investment scheme. Under the initiative, you will pay 5% of the training costs, with the government covering the remaining 95%. However, it’s important to remember that the same restrictions apply to these funds.
Apprenticeships can cover training and development up to Level 7, and anyone can become an apprentice providing that 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
Choosing how to use your funds
Whether you decide to hire a brand new recruit or upskill an existing member of staff in your school, how you spend your Levy funds is really up to you. Consider where you currently have a strong skillset, and where there are perhaps some skills gaps which need to be filled.
Whichever route you choose to take, there are four main apprenticeship standards that would be most beneficial for schools:
Teaching apprenticeship: A great alternative to Initial Teacher Training programmes, featuring the same entry and completion requirements.
School business manager apprenticeship: This standard will help you to improve performance in your school, whilst creating a defined career path for your SBMs.
Early years apprenticeship: The early years apprenticeship has replaced the previous early years apprenticeship frameworks.
Teaching assistant apprenticeship: Reflecting current best practice for teaching assistants, this standard will help to ensure the quality of the education delivered in your school.
You can also choose from a range of non-teaching based apprenticeship standards to strengthen your school’s support staff. These include IT and facilities management.
What you can’t use your funds for
Schools can’t use their Levy funds to pay for any training or assessment that’s not based around an apprenticeship. There are also some restrictions around what related costs it can be used for. Your Levy contributions can’t be spent on any of the following:
- Travel subsidiaries
- Work placements
- Licenses needed to practice
- Setting up an apprenticeship programme within your organisation.
How it all works
Regardless of whether you pay into the Levy or not, your funds are managed through your Apprenticeship Service Account (ASA). Your spends must be used to pay only training providers from the official register for the apprenticeship training and end-point assessment costs – and you must pick two separate providers to deliver these two services.
Schools in England can only use their Levy funds to train employees based in England who are studying an English apprenticeship standard.
Those who live in another devolved country but work in England are eligible, however English employers with staff in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland will not be able to use their funds to pay for their training.
Don’t risk losing your funds
It’s important to remember that the funds in your ASA pot are only there for 24 months. If you fail to use your spends within the two years, they will be moved into the general pot and you’ll effectively be paying for another school to receive apprenticeship training.
Also remember that the Levy works on a pay-as-you-go basis. This means that some schools may pay into the Levy some months but not others because of fluctuations with their payroll.
Local authorities and the Levy
The decision-making process around accessing and utilising Levy funds is a little more complicated if your school is part of a local authority or multi-academy trust. You’ll need to agree with your local authority or trust how you will get your funds.
Local authorities are responsible for making the necessary arrangements to provide schools with access to relevant funds, so the ASA is managed at their end. If you’ve not already started using your funds, you’ll need to speak to your local authority.
Over to you
If you’re looking for help managing your Levy funds, or want to find out more about how apprenticeships can benefit your school, take a look at our school apprenticeship services. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to stay up-to-date with all the latest Levy news and training opportunities.
If you would like to find out more, contact our expert team on 0161 233 2656 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.