This updated DfE guidance sets out the financial support available to alternative provision schools and colleges to support current Year 11 students into post-16 education
Purpose of the fund
The alternative provision (AP) cohort, a significant proportion of whom are in Year 11, are already vulnerable and at greater risk of becoming not in education, employment or training (NEET) than their peers. These risks have increased since schools closed for most pupils and, without substantial transition support, many of the current Year 11s in AP are at heightened risk this year of becoming NEET. Becoming NEET limits life chances and engagement in education is a protective factor from a range of harms. Bespoke, needs-based interventions are needed to support these Year 11 pupils transition to post-16 provision successfully.
Many of these students will attract some disadvantage funding when they are in the 16-to-19 phase. It is up to post-16 providers how they use this funding to support disadvantaged students, and the DfE know some use it to help retain students. The DfE encourage the APs to engage with the further education sector to help ensure ex-AP pupils sustain their post-16 destinations and avoid becoming NEET.
The DfE also strongly encourage AP settings to work with commissioners, whether local authorities or schools, and other local organisations including the voluntary and community sector, to put in place effective intervention packages. This is particularly pertinent to local authorities’ social care teams given pupils in AP are 12 times more likely to have a social worker than their mainstream peers. Interventions should draw on evidence-based practice wherever possible, and be based on pupils’ individual needs, matched with the best locally available provision.
This funding is in response to the continued disruption to education for some pupils due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What you can spend it on
The DfE are asking school and college leaders to:
- identify the most effective and best value solution or solutions available locally to support their Year 11 cohort in successfully transitioning into post-16 settings;
- continue to work with those young people to ensure they are settled and maintain their placements.
The DfE expect AP settings which used this funding in the last academic year to monitor the effectiveness of previous interventions and new activities with the aim of selecting activities that have maximum impact. This could include:
- backfilling a staff member as a ‘transition specialist’ to organise activities and act as a mentor or advocate for Year 11 pupils over the summer or during the autumn term;
- extending the contract of existing ‘transition coaches’ or appointing new ones;
- engaging third sector organisations to provide engagement or re-engagement activities, attendance support or expand existing transition programmes;
- providing some level of on-site support for the most at-risk pupils during the autumn term and preparing them for January entry into further education.
Case studies on post-16 transition feature some best practice examples of transition support for Year 11 students in AP. Schools and colleges can fund activities tailored to an individual pupil, or can pull together the funding into a package that supports wider groups of Year 11s. If you are a small AP, or have a small Year 11 cohort, this funding allows you to work collaboratively with other local APs.
This funding is not for:
- extending or re-opening school;
- providing additional school places or high needs funding;
- driving lessons;
- leavers’ assemblies;
- transport for pupils;
- sports day trophies.
APs wishing to keep pupils on roll would need to negotiate this separately with commissioners.
If APs are planning an intervention that is very different from those in this guidance, email [email protected] to discuss eligibility.
Funding will only be available to the following settings with a Year 11 AP cohort (sole or dual-registered):
- pupil referral units (PRUs);
- alternative provision academies and free schools;
- further education colleges offering alternative provision – these providers will need to pre-apply to access this funding;
- registered independent schools offering alternative provision – these providers will need to pre-apply to access this funding;
- hospital schools, including those that are PRUs, AP or special academies, foundation or community special schools, and those registered as independent schools.
Funding is not available to:
- special schools – unless they operate as a hospital school;
- charities – including those known as ‘unregistered AP’ – that provide activities for pupils who are in AP settings (they should contact local APs to see how they could engage with their transition work);
- mainstream schools.
The following settings do not need to pre-apply:
- AP academies;
- AP free schools;
- hospital schools.
Where a pupil is registered at a mainstream school and two AP institutions, only the AP setting where the pupil spends most of their time is eligible for funding (up to £750).
What you’ll get
The DfE will provide AP settings with up to £750 for each Year 11 pupil on their school or college roll to support these young people to transition into sustained post-16 destinations and to avoid becoming NEET. APs can use this funding from now until the end of February 2022 depending on individuals’ needs.
Funding will be allocated to cover actual costs of activities undertaken up to £750 per Year 11 student limits. Both sole-registered and dual-registered students will attract the full £750 per-pupil funding. The DfE will cover the costs actually incurred, up to the limits, when putting in place additional intervention packages to mitigate the increased risks of Year 11 pupils unsuccessfully transitioning to post-16 provision.
APs cannot take new pupils onto their roll to access transition support. This funding is only for existing Year 11s in an AP setting as of 21 May 2021.
Accessing the funding
The DfE are asking schools and colleges to make the necessary payments from their existing budgets and record these in line with local finance policies.
The DfE are making changes to the way schools and colleges submit a claim. The DfE are no longer asking schools and colleges to return individual claim forms to the AP Transition Fund mailbox. The DfE will now be using a digital claim form to simplify and speed up the payment process. The digital claim form will be available in early 2022 and will need to be completed by 28 February 2022.
Although the DfE are no longer asking for as much detail on the digital form, the DfE do ask that APs keep a record of the following for auditing and evaluation purposes:
- a detailed record of additional activities undertaken;
- the unique pupil numbers and registration status of pupils taking part in these activities.
- Payments will be made to reimburse providers for the per-pupil costs they apply for, up to the limits, in March or April 2022.
- Payment will be provided for any eligible intervention or interventions and payment will not depend on the outcomes of the intervention or interventions.
- APs must submit a claim form for assessment to be eligible to receive payment.
Conditions of funding
Funding can only be spent by schools and colleges to support their existing Year 11 cohort transition, and remain successfully engaged in, quality post-16 destinations. Where they need to, AP providers will be eligible to claim up to the per-pupil limits.
Schools and colleges will need to provide assurance that costs are legitimate additional costs incurred within the parameters of this funding by taking necessary measures.
Before submitting a claim, headteachers or school business managers should consider:
- how they’ll keep records of all expenditure relating to the AP transition fund – as is usual with all spend, these records will be necessary for local audit arrangements;
- their financial duties when submitting the claim, including signing their name against any claim;
- how they’ll show this income and the related expenditure when reporting their accounts;
- how they’ll demonstrate they have adjusted interventions to have increased impact (if they made use of this funding last academic year).
This funding is being provided under section 14-to-16 of the Education Act 2002. The DfE reserve the right to audit the expenditure and will not provide funding for claims which have not been made in accordance with the guidance, in order to protect public spending.
The DfE will use the data APs submit as part of their claim along with census data to:
- track claims;
- monitor the effectiveness of this fund.