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Course Entry Policy


This document explains our policy for enrolling individuals onto differing programmes of learning. It relates to individuals eligible for publicly funded and non-funded courses. Please also refer to our Terms & Conditions and the Learner Handbook, which explains our responsible learner behaviour policy, breaches of which may result in our refusing course entry to individuals.

Our Aim

Skills & Learning will make sure that individuals are admitted to our courses through a consistent, fair and transparent admissions process. We will ensure that all individuals are treated equitably and are given approprate information, advice and guidance to support them in selecting the correct learning provision for them.

We are committed to ensuring there is equality of opportunity for everyone who wishes to join one of our programmes and we welcome applications and enrolments from everyone with the potential to succeed. We will make reasonable adjustments throughout the application and enrolment process to ensure that no-one is disadvantaged.


Skills & Learning has limited funding with which to support individuals and we offer places to those eligible individuals who best meet our selection criteria and whom our staff judge to have most potential to benefit from their chosen course.

We prioritise this funding by:

  • Targeting funding at those who are not presently in employment, or have insecure or low wage employment, and are actively seeking learning in order to improve job prospects.
  • Targeting funding at those that need support to achieve greater levels of independent living.
  • Targeting funding at those who have not yet reached a level in their maths and/or English that equates to a GCSE at grade C/4 and through initial assessment and our professional judgement have the potential to further their attainment in maths and/or English by undertaking an accredited course. Funding must be used in a way that challenges individuals to achieve at a level higher than which they are initially assessed.
  • Targeting funding at those at risk of social and community exclusion.
  • Targeting funding at residents of Dorset. Although applications from outside of Dorset can be considered, applicants should be aware that funding may not be available and a full fee may need to be charged. Potential learners from outside of Dorset are encouraged to check the availability of funded adult learning opportunities in their own local area before applying to Skills & Learning.

In the academic year 2023/24, we will prioritise entry to learners who:

  • Are now unemployed or in insecure employment as a result of the pandemic and need new skills to support their future employability and/or next steps to further or higher education.
  • Need to retrain due to employment opportunities in their sector reducing as a result of the changing economic situation.
  • Can demonstrate the basic digital skills required and have the necessary equipment to access online learning or can demonstrate a willingness to develop the digital skills required to access online learning. Reasonable adjustments will be made for learners unable to meet this requirement due to disability.
  • Are new learners who would benefit most from enagement. Skills & Learning managers reserve the right to limit enrolments to 1 free course per learner per year.

Course entry

Skills & Learning will accept a learner who:

  • Meets funding eligibility criteria for their programme of study and meets the minimum entry requirements for a particular course as described in the course information sheet.
  • Has not previously received ESFA funding for the same programme at Skills & Learning or at another provider. An exception may be made where the individual has previously demonstrated significant progress towards a successful outcome. Skills & Learning may seek to reclaim fees and support costs for individuals who fail to disclose that they are studying the same qualification with another provider or have previously achieved the qualification.
  • Has a good record of attendance throughout any previous course/s attended (over 80% of lessons attended) and a good record of completion of work and exam success. Exceptions may be made where non-completion and/or poor attendance has been the result of poor health or medical issues (evidenced by a Doctor’s Certificate) and the individual has kept us fully informed. Exceptions may also be made where learners were unable to complete courses in 2020/21 due to the Covid-19 lockdown and the individual has kept us fully informed.
  • Provides any information requested to secure a place on their chosen programme, for example certificates of prior achievement.
  • Has no outstanding debt for previous courses or programmes of study.
  • Has adhered to our responsible learner behaviour policy (please see our Learner Handbook)
  • Can engage with online learning where required.
  • Some courses require an application process or attendance at an admission session to assess suitability for the course / programme of study. Assessments of suitability will be made by trained and qualified staff, using approved assessment methods and/ or tools


Some programmes of study have progression opportunities either within Skills & Learning or with another provider. Minimum entry requirements for progression courses and qualifications are explained on course information sheets. Suitability for progression will be assessed by trained and qualified staff and is not automatic.

Progression to higher level qualification courses may be selective and a learner’s likely capability to successfully manage the content, duration and assessment requirements of the course will be considered.

For some programmes of study, the suitability to join a course, continue on a course or to progress to another level of learning may also take into account sector specific criteria where a work placement is required or could be a feature of further courses.

Some programmes of learning may consider suitability for professional practice if the aim of the course is to prepare learners for specific jobs.

Unspent criminal convictions

The service reserves the right to refuse admission to individuals with unspent criminal convictions where, following a risk assessment, the risk to others or to themselves remains high.

Right of appeal

Individuals who wish to appeal against any decision made during the admissions and enrolment process should email Course Entry decision appeals will be investigated by course managers or another appropriate manager. Managers’ appeal decisions are final.

Storage of information

It is a funding body requirement that Skills & Learning maintain records of the initial assessments for all individuals for a period of 10 years.

These will be held securely and shared with relevant Teaching, Learning and Assessing staff that are involved in supporting individuals through their chosen study programme.

Skills & Learning reserves the right to amend any part of this Admissions Policy, without notice, in response to changes in Education and Skills Funding Agency and/or other Funding Body funding guidance.

Reviewed by Management & Performance Committee April 2023 Next review April 2024

Read more of our policies below