Paul (ESFA)

Q&A with ESFA - Submit learner data, ILR documents and FIS

Edited

Hi

ESFA colleagues responsible for Submit Learner Data, the Funding Information Service (FIS) and the individualised learner record (ILR) specification and guidance are happy to join us for a question and answer thread from 8 to 14 October.

We’re keen to give you more access to the teams so that you can tell them what you like / dislike about the current services, let them know what features or improvements you’d like to see and so on.

We had great feedback on Submit learner data and plenty of practical suggestions on how we can further improve it – you can see a summary of the survey results in October’s Inform.

We’ve also been getting feedback on our ILR documentation and work is already underway to add alerts/notifications for updates to that, and an improved search function.

If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions, please reply below and the teams will begin responding from 8 October.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks

Paul

Replies

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CarolM

Please could we have downloadable versions of the 20/21 ILR Specification and Provider Support Manual? 

Thanks in anticipation!

Paul (ESFA)

Hi Carol

Here's the response from the ILR team...

The ILR specification and guidance is now produced as an HTML publication to comply with legislative requirements. Pages within the ILR specification and support manual can be printed from the browser or app, but we're not in favour of printing and are discouraging the ‘print-and-annotate' method. Users relying on printed versions could miss updates and compromise their data quality.

We’ve published further details on the reasons behind the change – they cover the accessibility requirements, but also show how to keep an offline version (which will refresh when you connect to the internet).

Martin West

Q1. The current validations rules for 2020/21 are version 2 but this does not include LearnDelFAMType_91 which is reported in R02, it is assumed that an updated version of the validation rules was used at R02, is it acceptable that the validation rules uses for R02 has not been published?

Q2. The ILR provider Support manual does not contain any guidance on recording in the ILR EPA assessment resits and updating the ILR for any additional EPA costs that may apply, is it intended to include such guidance in the future?

Q3. I have read and researched the legislative requirements that have resulted in HTML replacing the PDF versions of the ILR Specifications and ILR provider Support Manual but in my opinion this does not preclude making a PDF version available in addition to the HTML published on the website, why have you taken the decision not to make available a PDF version to supplement the HTML when the sector has requested this format as it is necessary for reference when preparing ILR data in their normal operation?

Melanie Aspinall

I have to agree with Martin and Carol. The PDF version is much easier to search and refer to. I can save it down and reference page numbers. Currently it gets lost in my bookmarks in the new HTML format. Is there no leniency on this at all based on Martin's rationale in Q3?

Steveh

Part of the issue with the PSM in particular is the lack of good search and that the tree structure used to link the pages to each part of the guidance is not intuitive. Also that linking to different parts of the page doesn't automatically appear in the URL bar, you have to right click and open in a new tab to get the link you want...

Martin West

It is presumptuous for the ILR team to assume that Providers do not know what type of documentation best suits them for their normal business operation or that they do not understand the importance that the latest version should be referenced.

The problem with the web search is that it is not as detailed as that available in word of PDF where a search can be made for all occurrences of a word or phrase within a document as well as the ability to identify changes within document versions using compare which may identify (as it has done in the past) undocumented changes and errors.

The extent of my personal need has led me to produce from the HTML a complete PDF version of the PSM v1, now I have said that do you think I will get any requests for a copy?

Melanie Aspinall

Yes Martin - I would love a PDF version copy from you!! :-)

CarolM

Me too, please Martin. 

Ben Payne

I'd like to jump on that offer too please Martin! 

Steveh

OK, so, part of the thing about actually having this documentation as webpages is that the links can be updated.

I'm just adding some L5 Apps and trying to work out what values/fields in the HE Learning Delivery entity need to be added.

HOWEVER, when I go here:

https://guidance.submitlearnerdatabeta.fasst.org.uk/ilr/field/typeyr

to find out about TYPEYR and click on the HESA link, it goes to basically the front page of HESA:

https://www.hesa.ac.uk/collection

rather than 

https://www.hesa.ac.uk/collection/c19051/a/typeyr

which seems sloppy at best, can they be corrected please?

Steveh

Also, related to Martin's first question about Validation Rules spreadsheets, I'm not getting notifications from the traditional gov.uk.email@notifications.service.gov.uk about updates here, I didn't know V2 had even come out (and I see V3 came out on Tuesday!).  This needs fixing.

Jo Wade

Hi Martin, if you do manage to get a PDF version please can I grab a copy? It's a nightmare as HTML! I like to make notes at various points also. Thanks in advance.

Paul (ESFA)

Hi Martin

Here are the responses to your questions...

Q1. The current validations rules for 2020/21 are version 2 but this does not include LearnDelFAMType_91 which is reported in R02, it is assumed that an updated version of the validation rules was used at R02, is it acceptable that the validation rules uses for R02 has not been published?

Sorry that the published validation rules got out of sync with Submit learner data during R02. It's something we try to avoid. Providers have told us in the past that they need stability in terms of rules, reference datasets and so on, so that the service offers consistent results throughout the return period. It’s a challenge at the start of each funding year to get our services developed, tested and deployed. In this case, it was a rule that passed internal testing and put into the live environment without re-publishing the validation rules at the same time.

We’re looking at alternative ways of sharing validation rule information so that we could share in real time the status for each rule (whether it is live, in testing, has a known issue and so on). We’d be interested in your views on whether an online service like that would be an improvement to the current way of working where we publish and release rules in batches.

Q2. The ILR provider Support manual does not contain any guidance on recording in the ILR EPA assessment resits and updating the ILR for any additional EPA costs that may apply, is it intended to include such guidance in the future?

Resits (including resits for EPA assessments) are not currently recorded on the ILR. If there are any additional costs for in this space, they are not recorded on the ILR but we would expect to be something that the employer and the End point assessment organisation arranges. We are currently reviewing how we record EPA data on the ILR and will raise this scenario with the Apprenticeship Service to see whether we need to add any guidance.

Q3. I have read and researched the legislative requirements that have resulted in HTML replacing the PDF versions of the ILR Specifications and ILR provider Support Manual but in my opinion this does not preclude making a PDF version available in addition to the HTML published on the website, why have you taken the decision not to make available a PDF version to supplement the HTML when the sector has requested this format as it is necessary for reference when preparing ILR data in their normal operation?

We opted for a digital first approach so that we met the new accessibility requirements and keep ILR documents up to date. We hadn’t picked up the need for producing multiple formats. We recognise that this is a change to how training providers and software writers have historically worked. Since going live with the new service we have had feedback from users highlighting aspects of the service that we can improve and have published our backlog of updates and improvements.

We would like to work with you and other users to continue to improve the service and to understand what need the pdf meets that the online service cannot provide. To get involved in user research on this, we’d like people to contact customer.experience@education.gov.uk

Thanks

Paul  

Anami Tailor

Hi Steve, 


Here are the responses to your questions:

1. Part of the thing about actually having this documentation as webpages is that the links can be updated.  I'm just adding some L5 Apps and trying to work out what values/fields in the HE Learning Delivery entity need to be added.

HOWEVER, when I go here:

https://guidance.submitlearnerdatabeta.fasst.org.uk/ilr/field/typeyr

to find out about TYPEYR and click on the HESA link, it goes to basically the front page of HESA:

https://www.hesa.ac.uk/collection

rather than 

https://www.hesa.ac.uk/collection/c19051/a/typeyr

can they be corrected please?


As the ILR specification is published prior to the publication of the HESA specifications historically we don’t link to the pages as they are not created at the point of our publication. When linking to external publications we link to static pages only, as we can’t rely on third parties to implement a redirect on their pages that have been linked to, should the page be removed, renamed or repositioned with the site structure.


2. Also, related to Martin's first question about Validation Rules spreadsheets, I'm not getting notifications from the traditional gov.uk.email@notifications.service.gov.uk about updates here, I didn't know V2 had even come out (and I see V3 came out on Tuesday!).  This needs fixing


The notification functionality of the ILR online site is due to be deployed shortly.

For key updates  we currently use other communication streams to advise the sector, however for frequently published documentation (which includes the validation rules) the notification issue will be resolved very soon.