Schools to ‘grow their own’ teachers with PGCE apprenticeships

Apprenticeships have teaching and learning at their heart and yet schools have been slow to embrace them. All that is about to change, however, with the launch of new ways for them to “grow their own” teachers and fund training for staff, from classroom assistants to office workers and caretakers. The Guardian reports

Hughenden Primary School, a small 180-pupil school in Buckinghamshire, is leading the way with a new level 3 qualification for teaching assistants. Meanwhile, the Advance Trust of four special schools in Worcestershire has worked with the University of Worcester to devise apprenticeships that lead to qualified teacher status. Some schools are using business apprenticeships for their office staff and others are exploring ways to provide apprenticeships for caretakers.

“For us, it’s a win-win situation,” says Alison Young, the Advance Trust’s business director. “We pay the employers levy and we get it back through apprenticeships that provide professional development for our staff. It enables us to invest in people who know our ethos and are committed to working in special schools as a career,” she says.

Advance Trust has three apprentice teachers this year and will have another two next year. “Courses are expensive and the £9,000 from the levy goes to the university and funds the external assessments so our apprentices do not have to pay fees. They continue to be employed and take a salary, and at the end of the year they are qualified teachers. As unqualified teachers or teaching assistants, they reach the salary bar quickly but as qualified teachers they unlock a whole new salary scale,” she adds

Farther north, schools in the Ebor Academy Trust around York, North Yorkshire, have 12 TA apprentices and plan to recruit more. “It’s a great opportunity to develop a really important group of staff that is sometimes in danger of being forgotten,” says Alison Taylor, the trust’s HR director. “What excites me about our apprenticeship is that it is not just a one-off – someone going on a course and coming back into school – but an on-going programme teaching fundamentals and then deeper levels of learning across the full range of their jobs,” she adds.

Hannah Burke, 24, will qualify as a teacher this year after five years as a teaching assistant. “When I left sixth form I was adamant that full-time university was not for me. I knew I wanted to work with children with special needs and I started as a teaching assistant and soon realised I wanted to be a teacher,” says Hannah, who works for Advance Trust at the Vale of Evesham special school.

“I did a part-time university degree in early childhood education but I couldn’t afford to take a year off to get qualified teacher status. Teaching apprenticeships are a brilliant way to qualify while still being employed,” she says.

Read more about the scheme and its benefits Schools to ‘grow their own’ teachers with PGCE apprenticeships

Is this a way to boost teacher recruitment? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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