Grow your own; the benefits of teaching apprenticeships

With a severe shortage of teachers across the country and rising pupil numbers, it’s essential schools find alternative ways to get teachers into their classrooms. Here, we speak with Ashcroft High School’s business manager, Julie Ellins, about how the Luton-based school has utilised a new teaching apprenticeship programme, devised by Education Placement Group, to solve their recruitment issues

The Education Policy Institute (EPI) recently released the results of a new study – The teacher labour market in England: shortages, subject expertise and incentives – which examines the most recent figures on how numbers of teachers and their quality varies. The report highlights a major shortage of teachers across the country which coincides with an approximately 10% increase in student numbers over the last eight years.

Furthermore, the report shows that new teachers are not moving in to fill the gaps as quickly as they once were – teacher training applications are down by five per cent and training targets have been repeatedly missed in maths and science.

Teacher exit rates have risen too; the EPI found that just 60% of teachers remain in state-funded schools for five years after starting. For high-priority subjects such as maths and physics, retention drops to just 50% after five years. With education workforce recruitment and retention issues persisting it is vital that new routes into teaching are explored and funding is fully-utilised.

Ashcroft High School, Luton

Ashcroft High School, Luton, has done just this by participating in a new teaching apprenticeship programme (TAP) initiative. TAP supports schools in accessing available apprenticeship levy funding and delivers – through an approved IT provider – a one-year training programme which guides apprentices towards qualified teacher status (QTS) and end point assessment. Launched this year by Education Placement Group (EPG), their programme screens, sources and recruits graduates for all subjects – including STEM – at both primary and secondary levels.

Benefits of teaching apprentices

Teaching apprenticeships provide schools with useful benefits; for example, inner London schools can access grants of up to £17,400 to support the recruitment of graduates to teach subjects experiencing staff shortages. For the graduate, it enables them to embark upon a fee-free route to achieving QTS; trainee teachers are usually paid in line with the unqualified teacher salary scale – starting at £20,909 in inner London and £16,626 across the rest of the country – alongside a valuable training package.

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Compared to the complex nature of some of the other routes into teaching, this programme provides a simple way for schools to tackle workforce gaps and for talented graduates to enter the profession.

The programme in practice

Fourteen teaching apprentices started at Ashcroft High School this September. Throughout the year-long programme the apprentices will be mentored by current staff, work one-on-one with students, observe lessons and, eventually, take their own classes. The apprentices will teach maths, science, history and music.

Julie Ellins, Ashcroft High School business manager, told us that TAP has been a valuable way to attract high-quality teachers to Luton – an area which has proved particularly difficult to recruit to in the past. “Being a Luton school, it is very difficult to recruit; the majority of schools in this area have recruitment and retention problems,” Julie explains. “This programme ensures that we get the right calibre of candidates and enables us to embed the graduates in our school. We work hand-in-hand with the training provider, EPG, to make sure the teaching apprentices have a great experience and want to keep teaching in our school.

“It allows us to grow our own staff, training them in the way our school works and embedding them into the school as a member of staff straight away,” she adds.

On successful completion of programme, the teaching candidates are likely to be offered positions at Ashcroft High School or one of three other Luton Futures partner schools in the area.

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