Skills for Londoners Innovation Fund

The Mayor has launched the new Skills for Londoners Innovation Fund. The £6.4m Fund is designed to support London’s Adult Education Budget (AEB) grant-funded provider base to deliver activity that meets the Mayor’s priorities for education and skills in London, demonstrates innovation and delivers key outcomes.

The prospectus sets out how eligible providers can apply for the Fund and the types of activities it will support.

Who we will fund

The Fund is open to applications from GLA AEB grant-funded providers, based in London or London’s fringe, who have an overall Ofsted grade of ‘good’ or above.

Providers with an overall grade of ‘requires improvement’ will be eligible to apply but will be required to demonstrate how their proposed activity will be of high quality.

To qualify for the Innovation Fund, providers must be delivering in line with or above their existing allocation for 2019/20.

Providers delivering below their existing allocation may instead submit a business case to the GLA for additional flexibility to build capacity within their current funding allocation, where the provision meets the Mayor’s priorities and is innovative and outcome-focused.

What we will fund

We will fund provision in the following priority areas:

  • Widening participation for disabled Londoners to access provision funded by the AEB
  • Preventing future violence
  • Improving the availability of high-quality English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) provision
  • Addressing sectoral priorities in London’s economy
  • Support for those affected by jobs displacement and redundancies
  • Improving participation in digital skills training
  • Supporting adults to gain English and maths skills.

Applicants can apply for up to 10% of their existing allocation to a maximum value of £500,000, with a minimum value of £100,000 set for an application.

How to apply

To apply for funding, providers are required to complete an application form then email it to [email protected] by 5pm Tuesday, 10 December 2019.

Download the Skills for Londoners Innovation Fund: guidance on measuring and evidencing outcomes for assistance with question 5 of the application form. 

Please email any questions you may have regarding the application to [email protected] or contact your Provider Manager.

For the latest questions and clarifications please activate the link below.

Questions and clarifications

Skills for Londoners Innovation Fund Application Process

Please return regularly for updates to this list

1. Why is the fund only open to grant-funded providers?

The fund replaces the ESFA's mechanism for funding growth for grant-funded providers.  For GLA AEB procured providers, separate arrangements are in place to bid for additional funding in 2020.

2. Is the fund open to any grant-funded provider?

Please refer to the 'Who we will fund' section of the prospectus.  The Fund is only open to those grant-funded providers that the GLA will continue to fund from 2021/22.  This includes grant-funded providers located within London and the fringe and any providers located outside London and the fringe that submitted a case for the GLA to continue funding from 2021/22.  The GLA will only assess Innovation Fund applications from providers located outside London and the fringe if their business case for continuation of funding was successful.  Where your current allocation is lower than £1m and you are applying for £100K, you should set out details of how you will increase capacity and achieve the higher level of delivery in section 2. 

3. Why are you not just funding growth?

The Mayor has decided to allocate this additional grant funding to provision that demonstrates innovation and impact for London residents.  The fund incentivises providers to deliver activity that will achieve learning, employment and social outcomes.  Successful projects may then be mainstreamed into existing AEB provision to support the Mayor's ambitions.

4. How will you ensure what is delivered is innovative?

The prospectus sets out the types of innovation that providers may wish to consider as part of their proposals.  This could be in terms of how the activity is delivered (i.e. how the provision will reach hard-to-reach groups or be delivered through specialist partners and/ or in community settings), or in terms of how the impact and outcomes of the activity are measured.  The GLA is also committed to robustly evaluating  the projects that are supported through the fund. 

5. How will you evaluate activity supported through the fund?

The GLA will commission an evaluation, which will include examining the impact of the pilots supported through the fund on London's learners, education/ training providers, businesses and the wider community.  Successful providers will be expected to agree an evaluation plan for provision supported by the fund.  This is likely to include the submission of an interim report which describes progress to date against the targets set during the application stage.  Providers will also be required to submit a final report which will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the project.  This information will help inform future approaches to supporting innovation and may be made public.  See page 15 of the prospectus. 

6. What will happen if you do not receive a sufficient number of applications?

The GLA does not expect to receive fewer applications than the funding available.  Any underspend would be considered by the Mayor for reallocation to AEB priorities.

7. Can a provider apply for more than one project under the fund?

Yes.  However, the total value of these applications in aggregate must not exceed £500K or 10% of the provider's allocation for 2019/20, whichever is lower, as outlined in the prospectus.  We would only expect to receive more than one application where projects are demonstrably separate and address different priorities. 

8. Can providers apply as a consortium?

No.  The GLA will only accept individual applications from grant-funded providers.  The GLA will allow subcontracting as part of an application, but only where it is demonstrated that the proposed activity relies on engaging with niche and/ or specialist organisations. 

What was the rationale for the sectors identified under priority four?

The sectors listed under priority four were identified as part of the GLA skills and employment research, and consulted on through the Skills for Londoners Framework with providers and key stakeholders.  Following consultation, the priority sectors were extended to include:

  • Early years and childcare
  • Science, technology, engineering and maths
  • Construction and infrastructure

10. why does a minimum application value of £100,000 apply?

Applications must total at least £100,000.  This minimum value has been applied in order to ensure that projects delivered through the fund are high quality and are large enough to deliver meaningful and measurable outcomes.

11. Can providers with allocations of under £1,000,000 apply to the fund?

Yes.  Providers with allocations of under £1,000,000 can submit an application to the value of £100,000.  Providers will need to make a convincing case to the GLA in section 2 that they will have sufficient capacity in place to deliver a project of this size in addition to their current AEB grant allocation.

12. Will Innovation Fund allocations be considered when determining future AEB growth allocations?

No.  Innovation Fund allocations are awarded in 2019/20 and/or 2020/21 and are awarded in addition to provider grant allocations for the same academic year.  These allocations are separate from the recurrent AEB funding allocations for Grant-Funded Providers. 

13. How will Innovation Fund allocations be claimed?

Innovation Fund allocations will be added to provider grant allocations in each respective academic year and will be paid on profile in line with the standard AEB funding methodology. As such, providers will need to outline the share of their Innovation Fund allocation that they expect to deliver in 20219/20 and the share that they expect to deliver in 2020/21 .

All providers must use Delivery Area Monitoring Code 003 in their ILR data returns to identify learning delivered through the fund.  In addition, funding for all non-formula provision must be claimed via the Earnings Adjustment Statement.

14. The prospectus states that there is scope to carry the allocation forward into 2020/21.  Can Innovation Fund provision start in the 2020/21 academic year?

Yes. Innovation Fund provision can start in the 2020/21 academic year.  All applications must clearly indicate the amount of funding required in each academic year on the application form. 

15. The prospectus states that providers will be expected to deliver at least one outcome from Group 2 in the Outcomes table on page 13.  Can you confirm whether delivery of outcomes from Group 1 is optional?

As outlined in the prospectus, providers must deliver at least one outcome from Group 2 as identified in Table 1.  As the Innovation Fund supports adult learning we would expect providers to deliver learning outcomes from Group 1 in most cases.  Any applications that do not deliver learning outcomes from Group 1 should clearly outline why this is the case. 

16. Can applications span multiple priorities?

Yes.  Applications can span multiple Mayoral priorities.  The application will need to be very clear how it matches each priority and how outcomes will be achieved.  Applications will not necessarily score higher for delivering against multiple priorities, but they will be scored on how these priorities are addressed. 

17. Can the Innovation Fund be used to fund software development projects?

The purpose of the Innovation Fund is to fund provision, and activities that clearly and directly link to the delivery of key learning, employment and/ or social outcomes.  Whilst we are open to a small proportion of the funds awarded being spent on software and similar investment to support delivery, the main thrust of the activity (and the majority of the sum awarded) should be directly linked to delivery of learning and its associated outcomes.  All activity must be recorded in the ILR. 

18. How are applicants expected to measure and evidence outcomes within their applications?

Please refer to the Innovation Fund Outcomes Guidance.

19. Where can I find the application form?

The application form is available to download. 

20. Can Innovation Fund allocations be used to pay for provision that is already in delivery?

Yes.  The prospectus states that the fund will support proposals to deliver either new provision or to scale-up provision that has already started which would exceed the value of the provider's total AEB allocation for 2019/ 20.  However, it is necessary for the GLA to be able to robustly measure the impact of provision supported through the fund and therefore proposals need to demonstrate innovation and impact as a result of the additional funding.  Providers could use their Innovation Fund allocation to scale up small-scale innovation they are already funding through their main allocation.  However, in such instances providers must demonstrate why they were not able to scale-up provision within their existing budget. 

21. Can Innovation Fund allocations be used to deliver individuals not previously eligible for AEB funding?

In all circumstances, we would expect individuals to be eligible for AEB funding.  The GLA cannot fund provision for individuals who are not fundable under sections 34 - 57 of the GLA AEB Grant Funding Rules

22. What flexibility do applicants have to deliver provision not currently possible in the AEB?

Where proposals relate to innovative provision for delivery that is restricted because of the current funding rules, proposals should clearly describe why this provision is restricted and how flexibility will enable it to be delivered for the benefit of learners.  All proposed provision must be fundable under the terms of the memorandum of understanding between the GLA and the Department for Education delegation on AEB. 

23. What does the GLA require from providers with an Ofsted 'Requires Improvement' grade to evidence that their provision will be high quality?

Where the overall Ofsted grade is 'Requires Improvement', you should set out information at Question 1 about why the proposed provision will be of high quality.  This information may include details of the current achievement rates for learning aims that are delivered in the same sector subject area and at the same level. 

24. How should we demonstrate that we are delivering in-line with our 2019/20 allocation?

Under the comments supporting your forecast in section 2, you should confirm your performance at R04 for 2018/19 and the value of your final claim for 2018/19.  In addition, you should include information about how you have calculated your full-year forecast for 2019/20 and any other contextual performance information. 

25. How will funding be allocated where applications have the same assessment score?

In the event of a tie-break, where two or more bids have an identical score and the available funding is not sufficient to fund those bids in full, the remaining funds will be awarded based on the bidders' scores on the innovation question 4, followed by question 2, 1, and 6.  Any remaining tie break may result in the remaining funding being pro-rated between those bids. 

26. Does the description of Basic Skills in Table 1 mean we can deliver non-regulated provision (where appropriate for the learner)?

Yes, that would be possible subject to a clear rationale of why non-regulated provision is preferred to regulated provision and why it is considered innovative. We would not expect to fund a non-regulated version of a regulated qualification. 

27. Can we claim full funding for non-regulated English and maths learners?

Yes, that would be possible subject to a clear rationale. We would not expect to fund a non-regulated version of an English and maths qualification unless it is clearly demonstrated why the regulated qualification was not appropriate.  The mechanism for making the payments will be confirmed in due course.

28. Can the definition of Basic Skills extend to include non-regulated ESOL?

Yes, that would be possible.  It will be important to distinguish whether the suggested non-regulated ESOL courses are part of community learning or formula funded provision.  As above we would expect to fund a non-regulated version of a regulated qualification. 

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