See also: Individualised Learner Record (ILR) specification, validation rules and appendices 2018 to 2019

ESFA update today (10 July)

This document sets out the details of data about further education (FE) learners and their learning that must be collected by colleges, training organisations, local authorities and employers (FE providers).

It provides a technical specification of ILR data collection requirements, for those who make data returns, implement data specifications and design information systems; including management information (MI) managers, software writers and suppliers.

The data collected is used to calculate funding due to FE providers, for performance monitoring, future planning and to ensure that public money is being spent in-line with government targets.

  • the document may be revised and re-issued through the year
  • all changes from previous versions are highlighted within the document
  • notifications of new documents and new versions of documents will be issued via Twitter.

ESFA use the individualised learner record (ILR) data to calculate funding earned by publicly funded colleges, training organisations, local authorities and employers (FE providers). The data gathered provides information on the effectiveness of the learning programmes in terms of who they reach, what learning they receive, and what outcomes are achieved.

To help FE providers in collecting the correct data for different types of learners, a list of the fields required for each funding model is given in section 17 of the Provider Support Manual.

Learning aims search

An online learning aims search facility is available on the Hub, where you can access and search the Learning Aim Reference Service (LARS) for aims, standards and frameworks.

Historical learning aim information

The LARS website provides the facility to download the database for current collection years.

Downloads for previous years have been made available if you wish to interrogate prior academic years.

Simplified funding rates catalogue

The catalogue lists all provision which we have approved for public funding in a given collection year and can be found at the GOV.UK page Qualifications approved for public funding and then select the appropriate period.

HE learning aim request due date 2017

Providers requesting new learning aims for prescribed Higher Education provision for the 2016 to 2017 funding year must submit completed forms together with all relevant approval information to us by Friday 29 September 2017.

This will allow them to be created and uploaded to the Learning Aim Reference Service (LARS) database for the R14 ILR submission that opens on 9 October 2017 and closes on 19 October 2017.

We recommend that providers request learning aims throughout the funding year to ensure that their ILR submissions are up to date.

The form and the guidance are available to download from this page. The completed form and an approval letter should be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

HE learning aims request form

HE approval letter

ILR specification Appendix H

A technical specification of the classification and coding system to be used to record non-regulated provision in the ILR for the relevant collection year can be found at the GOV.UK collection Individualised Learner Record (ILR) and then select the appropriate period.

Unique learner numbers (ULNs)

A ULN is a 10-digit reference number, used as a single common identifier for UK learners aged 14 and over. Each ULN is issued and held by the Learning Record Service (LRS), part of the Skills Funding Agency.

Employer reference numbers (ERNs)

ERNs are entered in the employer identifier field in an ILR data collection. They can be obtained from and validated by the Employer Data Service (EDS).

The Employer Data Service (EDS) user guide provides information about the employer reference number with the individualised learner record.

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