Are you an apprenticeship provider using the wrong PDSAT?

Posted by Matthew Butson

As an apprenticeship provider you should be familiar with the PDSAT, but did you know that you could be usingMatthew Butson-0014-2 (1) the “wrong” version and missing critical errors?  Matthew Butson, Funding & Reporting Adviser in Tribal’s ILR data management expert team, explains the problem.

There are a range of tools that providers use to check their ILR data including FIS reports, PDSATs, FRM reports, dashboards, and QAR data. Alongside your student management system, they provide comprehensive insight into your performance and give you the best chance of submitting robust data.


But don’t make the mistake of relying too heavily on any one tool. The Provider Data Self-Assessment Toolkit (PDSAT or DSAT for short) was first developed to help the ESFA do financial assurance audits on providers. For many years now the tool has also been available for providers to interrogate their own data and it is essential that they do.

We run DSAT reviews every quarter as a minimum for all our Data Management Services customers. But even the otherwise excellent DSAT reports have some serious limitations.

Users have the option to use the ILR as a data source, or first running the ILR through FIS and then using the FIS export as a data source for DSAT. With the latter, you get the derived financial data from FIS to help you quantify the impact of a particular issue (see below).

Derived Financial Data from FIS DSAT


I don’t think many users realise that some apprenticeship reports do not calculate correctly if you use the ILR as a data source. There are two DSAT reports, for example, that calculate if the Planned or Actual off-the-job hours meet the minimum requirements. Below is an example of the same DSAT where the first is generated one using FIS and the other using the ILR as a data source. 

The results using FIS:

23A-215 Planned off-the-job training hours 8
23A-216 Actual off-the-job training hours 3


The results using the ILR:

23A-215 Planned off-the-job training hours 0
23A-216 Actual off-the-job training hours 0


You will see that you get different results depending on the data source you use. Considering that an error in the OTJ calculation can potentially put all the funding for an apprenticeship at risk, it is concerning that a DSAT derived from the ILR does not highlight this at all. Providers may assume they have no issue. Therefore, the only true DSAT, in my opinion, is a FIS DSAT.


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