Preparing for the Individualised Learner Record (ILR) Return

Submitting the ILR Return is a requirement for stand-alone post-16 providers in England. Further guidance regarding the ILR Return can be found on the DfE’s Website.

This guide will run through how to make sure you’ve got all the information required.

You can see the collection availability for when you need to complete and submit the ILR Return here: Data collection maintenance schedule


You will need the School: Data Returns: Administer permission to be able to access and run the ILR Return.

You'll also need specific permissions to resolve certain errors and queries, depending on the area you're resolving the error for.

If you don't have permission to complete an action, you'll need to ask your admin team to give you permission using these instructions.


Preparing your data

These are the key areas that you'll need to check before running an ILR Return.

Learner Reference Number

This should be given by your institution to the student for the whole time they are enrolled. The numbers should not be reused for a different student. In Arbor, this is the Arbor Student ID.

If students already have a Learner Reference Number from a previous system, these can be imported for you. Contact the Arbor Support Team if supported by Arbor, or your Support Partner if not supported by Arbor.

You can also set a Learner reference number prefix from School > School details so that students at schools with the same ID are distinguished. Please contact Arbor if you believe you need to set this.

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Other student data

  • Postcode before enrolmentThis is the postcode of the student directly before they were enrolled at the current educational institution. If the learner's postcode is unknown, you must add a postcode of ZZ99 9ZZ. If the student only has one address and a start date of "ongoing" in Arbor, then we'll assume their current postcode is also relevant for this field.
  • Telephone number - This is the student's phone number, recorded with the type of Mobile.
  • EmailThe student's personal email address, recorded with the type of Personal, not Work.
  • Family Name - Family name is pulled from the Arbor Last name field.

  • Given Name(s)Given Names are pulled from the Arbor First Name field.

These can all be added or edited from the student's main profile page.

Programmes and programme enrolments

We recommend having these set up first, as a number of the other fields that are returned for students change depending on how their programmes are funded.

You can see details of how to set these up here:

Student Funding

High Needs Students (HNS (also known as Element 3 Top-Up funding) and National Learner Monitoring (NLM) are Student Funding Records which can be added from the Student Funding section of the student profile, or in bulk: Adding funding to a student.

Eligibility for 16-19 (excluding Apprenticeships) disadvantage funding (EDF) is only returned if the student hasn’t achieved English and Maths before the end of year 11. You can fill in whether this is achieved from the bulk update GCSE prior attainment area (see the GCSE Prior Attainment below).

Students need to have a programme enrolment with the Learning Aim Funding Model of 16-19 (excluding Apprenticeships) for this field to return.

GCSE Maths condition of funding (MCF) and GCSE English condition of funding (ECF) is the funding exemption field on the bulk update GCSE attainment for funding page.


Free Meals Eligibility (FME) defaults from the FSM Eligibility in Arbor. Students need to have a programme enrolment with the Learning Aim Funding Model of 16-19 (excluding Apprenticeships) for this field to return.

Schools can also use the Bursaries area to assign bursaries with linked student funding types to students. Bursaries must be active on the return reference date to show on the return.

GCSE Prior Attainment

This can be added from:

  • our Students > All Students > Bulk Update > GCSE Attainment for Funding page
  • from the GCSE Attainment for Funding section of the student profile.

Ensure you have added the Grade, Achievement and Funding Exemption.

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Information about students with Medical Conditions that affect their learning or with SEN, will show in the LLDD (Learner with Learning Difficulties or Disabilities) section.

You'll need to fill in:

  • SEN Status
  • SEN Needs - These must be ticked as Agreed with student. There must be a primary SEN need or medical condition set using the tick box.
  • Medical conditions - These must be ticked as Agreed with student and must be connected up with a LLDD type in order to be included in the ILR Return.
  • If a student does not have any SEN needs or medical conditions, we will output this field as "No information provided by the learner."
  • The "Primary LLDD" tickbox defines which of the SEN and/or Medical conditions the student has (and has agreed that they have) is their main learning difficulty or disability.
  • Additional Learning Support Cost - this is the student SEN cost that you can set in the SEN needs area - if this is included, then the student must have the correct SEN status and student funding set.

You can see which SEN Needs and medical conditions will be output on the ILR Return for each student from the ILR learner file page.

  • Learner defined Health and Disability status is derived from whether the student has at least one SEN need or medical condition set as being agreed by the learner.
  • The LLDD Category is also derived from the student's SEN need.
  • For medical conditions, there are many conditions that could be mapped to more than one ILR Category, so you can pick which LLDD Category they want that medical condition to be returned as (if at all).




There are 5 consents built into Arbor that are automatically pulled into the ILR Return:

  • Contact about courses or learning opportunities
  • Contact about research
  • Contact via email
  • Contact via post
  • Contact via telephone

These can be updated from the student's profile, or in bulk like regular consents: Student consents

Students who have not consented to any of these consent types will show as not having consented in the ILR Return.

Employment and Previous Education

This cannot be entered in bulk and will need to be added to the student's profile page in their Education and Employment History. 

An Employment status record must be created for all adult learners and 16-19 funded learners on part-time programmes of study (with less than 540 planned learning hours in the teaching year.) 

If applicable, once the employment status is recorded the Employment and Previous Education section will show on the Learners record. 

For all other students, the previous School must be recorded for the Employment and Previous Education section to display on the Learners ILR section.

Planned Learning and EEP Hours

This can be updated in bulk following these instructions: Planned learning and EEP hours

  • Arbor will automatically calculate the total planned learning hours for the student, based on all their programme enrolments.
  • This can be overwritten on a per student basis if needed, but we recommend you set planned learning hours at a programme instance level, let that default for all programme enrolments and have Arbor calculate the total per student.

Top Tip: If it’s a 2 year programme and you need to add the second year's hours, just add the next academic year here: Adding the next Academic Year to your Arbor site

Destination and Progression

Destination and Progression needs to be added only when students leave, following these instructions: UCAS destinations


What's next?

Once you've checked your site and filled in any missing data using the instructions above, you can get started on running the ILR: Individualised Learner Record (ILR) Return guide 

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