After two public consultations in 2020, we spent the next year testing our proposed funding model. This ensured it would provide an accurate estimate of the typical costs that are necessary to deliver an apprenticeship. 

We conducted a live-test pilot of the proposed funding model. Altogether the live test pilot ran from January 2022 to July 2023. The test affirmed that our proposed model is accurate and effective in real world applications. All funding band recommendations are now made via this funding model. 

The funding model applies to some 127 apprenticeships in total. 69 cases have concluded. This means they have been allocated a funding band by the Secretary of State for Education. 23 of these were new standards, the rest being revisions to published apprenticeships.  

IfATE has evaluated performance of the funding model throughout the pilot. We have evaluated in several ways including: 


Deep-dive quality assurance of funding band recommendations.

Customer insight

Evaluating the experience of trailblazers using the model through surveys and discussions.


Oversight of the IfATE and DfE governance functions. 


Weekly performance reviews of the model throughout the live-test.

Stakeholder engagement

Wide-ranging stakeholder engagement including funding model updates at conferences and webinars 

Staff engagement

Feedback from the different IfATE teams that interact with the model. 


The evaluation satisfies us that our proposed funding model is transparent, reliable, and robust. It delivers high quality recommendations. Our original success criteria for the live test pilot have been met: 

  • full operational process creates funding band recommendations to be closer to the ‘typical’ cost of training delivery
  • the operational process is found to work
  • any unexpected impacts on certain types of apprenticeships have been resolved
  • the impact of the model on programme costs is understood
  • the system is simpler for Trailblazers and IfATE staff to use
  • there is improved transparency for Trailblazers
  • that project design principles (transparency, value for money, flexible, evidence based) are satisfied

On completion of our evaluation in July 2023, the pilot is now closed. The proposed funding model is our established as the only, and permanent funding model. The previous quotes based model is withdrawn.

During the live test pilot we made the following improvements, learning from evaluation:

  • introduced a rate for initial assessment, to complement funding rule changes
  • clarified how on-costs are addressed within the model
  • strengthened the evidence trailblazers must provide on tutor salary
  • refined our data collection tools to support high quality funding submissions
  • added an option for trailblazers to provide contextual evidence to inform Secretary of State decision making
  • strengthened our information and coaching to Trailblazers
  • retained the stability mechanism

While the pilot is concluded, we will continue to monitor the models performance and will use continuous improvement processes to iterate further as necessary.

We plan to:

  • move the funding model to an improved IT infrastructure
  • work with DfE and the wider sector, to ensure the funding model continues to deliver value for money
  • review and improve further our guidance and support tools for Trailblazers
    Review Degree Cost fixed rates
  • review Admin, formative assessment and initial assessment fixed rates
  • improve the Trailblazer submission process adding flexibilities that allow easier handling of consumable costs and tutor salaries
  • review the possibility to move EPAO costs from quote to cost based evidence in line with our approach to on-programme costs

For any questions or to get in touch please email us.


Published 4 September 2023
Last updated 2 September 2023
(DC, NS)