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Information for Employers- Schools

Why have an apprentice in school?

Apprenticeships are a great way for schools to improve the skills of their employees.

You can use apprenticeships to recruit new employees, and you can also use apprenticeships to retrain or upskill existing staff of all ages and levels of experience, in a wide variety of roles.

You can use apprenticeships to provide training that is tailored to the needs and requirements of your school. This can be through workplace learning and formal training.

Apprenticeships can be used as part of your strategic workforce planning, to promote a diverse and inclusive workforce and support recruitment and retention.

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprentice is an employee that works alongside experienced staff to gain the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to be fully competent in their chosen occupation.

Apprenticeships combine work with practical training and study, both on-the-job and off-the-job.

Apprentices are assessed at the end of their apprenticeship to establish if they are occupationally competent in their role. This is called an end-point assessment.

Examples of apprenticeships that could be suitable for a school setting include:

  • Teacher
  • School business professional
  • Business administrator
  • Teaching assistant
  • Property maintenance
  • Lab Technician
  • IT Communications

Who can we take on as an apprentice?

Apprenticeships are for everyone, not just for young people and new recruits. All apprentices can benefit from government funding to support their apprenticeship as long as they are:

  • 16 years old and above
  • employed in a real job
  • training for at least 12 months
  • spending at least 20% of their time on off-the-job training (for example, being mentored or coached or completing formal training or qualifications)
  • paid at least the relevant national minimum wage for apprentices (though most will be paid more)

Apprentices can be full-time or part-time employees. Find out more about employing an apprentice.

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute) provides more information about apprenticeship occupational maps and new apprenticeships in development.

Apprenticeship funding

Please see our dedicated section called ‘funding an apprenticeship’ for information about incentive payments to employers, and the levy.

What does off-the-job training mean in a school context?

In England, all apprentices must spend at least 20% of their time in off-the-job training. This means time that is spent training and learning during their ordinary working hours that is separate from their work duties.

The minimum requirement for 20% off-the-job training is designed to ensure high quality apprenticeships that develop the knowledge, skills, and behaviours needed to become occupationally competent.

English and Maths are integral to all apprenticeships and, where applicable, apprentices will be supported to gain these skills. Any English and maths training and study is in addition to the 20% minimum off-the-job training.

Any off-the-job training must be directly relevant to the apprenticeship. It can include training that is delivered at the apprentice’s normal place of work, such as mentoring, work shadowing or practical training. It can also include attending courses, lectures or workshops off-site or online.

Off-the-job training can be delivered in a flexible way to suit the needs of the apprentice, employer and training provider.

For example, the minimum 20% does not have to be fixed as one day a week, every week. The employer and training provider can work together to plan how to include the 20% minimum requirement over the duration of the apprenticeship. An example could be blocks of training.

The employer and the training provider can work together to deliver different elements of off-the-job training.

Activities which are part of the apprentice’s day-to-day job do not count towards off-the-job training. This means that training providers and employers cannot claim planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time, or line management meetings, as off-the-job training.

Read more about off-the-job training.

Apprenticeship options for schools

Schools employ staff in a wide range of roles which could suit an apprenticeship. They can be used to upskill or retrain current employees or to recruit new employees.

When considering how to use apprenticeships in your school, you might want to think about:

  • Are other schools in your area already using apprenticeships, and if so what can you learn from them?
  • What skills do your employees need now and in the future, and can apprenticeships help with this?
  • Have you got skills gaps within your workforce, that could be solved through an apprenticeship programme?
  • How do the roles in your school fit with apprenticeship training that is currently available?

A range of apprenticeships relevant to schools are available:

Teaching assistant apprenticeship (Level 3)

The teaching assistant apprenticeship reflects the best available evidence and practice around effective use of teaching assistants, supporting groups of pupils and individuals. The training involves understanding how to support a class teacher to enhance pupils’ learning.

School business professional apprenticeships

These apprenticeships are intended to help create a new career structure within school business administration and support. The business administration apprenticeship develops the core skills required for business support departments to conduct their responsibilities efficiently and effectively, such as within school offices, as PAs, or on reception.

First Line Management and Operations/Departmental Manager (Level 3 and 5)

First Line Management or Team Leading is about developing the leadership skills of those who have first line management and leadership responsibilities. This qualification is aimed at practising or aspiring managers that supervise or manage a team to achieve clearly defined outcomes.

middle leadership apprenticeship in operations / departmental management that can be adapted for a school context. This is aimed at those who manage teams and projects in line with an operational or departmental strategy, such as middle leaders within schools.

Career Development Professional (Level 6)

As the statutory duties increase on education providers with regards to careers education, the Career Development Professional Apprenticeship provides a training route that upskills existing staff or trains new staff to fulfil the dual-role of careers leadership, and delivering careers guidance interviews. The apprenticeship supports careers leaders, careers coordinators, and any member of staff involved in the career management/planning of students (such as tutors, or pastoral teams), to have qualified, impartial, impactful career conversations with learners.

Other apprenticeships suitable for schools

Apprenticeships are available in several other fields that may be relevant to your school, such as lab technicians, IT, catering and hospitality, facilities management, digital professions, HR, and accounting and finance.

These apprenticeships are available at a variety of levels and designed to be flexible so that, to an extent, you can tailor the training to the specific needs of your school.

Apprenticeships for existing staff

Apprenticeships are a great way of supporting the development of staff in schools and are not just for new recruits.

The apprenticeship should offer existing employees the opportunity to:

  • Acquire substantive new skills
  • Complete training that is different to any previous qualifications

Individuals can complete an apprenticeship even if they hold a higher level qualification.

For example, a teacher may have a degree qualification in the subject they teach, but could complete an apprenticeship in leadership or management if they are taking on a leadership role.

Before an apprenticeship begins, your training provider will conduct an initial assessment of the apprentice’s prior learning to ensure they are eligible and that an apprenticeship is an appropriate programme for them.

Apprenticeship training providers

Selecting an apprenticeship training provider

Priory Apprenticeships are an approved, registered training provider for a suite of school-relevant apprenticeships. As part of a wider multi academy trust, we are well positioned to understand the needs of schools in the development and delivery of our apprenticeship programmes.

Maintained schools should get in touch with their local authority regarding their process for selecting an apprenticeship training provider.

How the public sector apprenticeship target applies to schools

The government is committed to increasing the quality and quantity of apprenticeships in the public sector, both to improve capacity and capability, and to ensure that the public sector benefits from the same positive impact as other employers.

All public sector employers with 250 or more staff, including governing bodies of schools, will need to consider how they can increase the number of apprentices in their workforce as outlined in the public sector apprenticeship target.

The target is for organisations to employ an average of at least 2.3% of their headcount as new apprentice starts for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022.

New apprenticeship starts can include both existing staff that start an apprenticeship and new recruits.

All bodies in scope are required to publish and report to the Department for Education on their progress annually. Whether your organisation is in scope of the target will depend on the type of school and which organisation employs the school’s staff.

We are happy to discuss how we can support you in meeting the public sector apprenticeship target at your school.