Don’t let old thinking stop your school from benefitting from apprenticeships for your staff  

Although apprenticeships have changed a great deal since the apprenticeship reform programme commenced in 2017, there are still a great many myths still circulating and influencing how people perceive apprenticeships as a route to improving skills and employability both for themselves and for others around them. Set out below are some of the key facts that you need to know about apprenticeships in schools: 


Apprenticeships are available for many typical job roles in schools 

There are over 60 apprenticeships that are a strong or close match to the typical roles in schools. These range from entry level administration to strategic leadership, from generic to specialist, and every point in between. There are also generic skills apprenticeships including customer service and management that are relevant for many staff in different roles.


An apprenticeship is a job with a training programme

Schools are responsible for paying apprentice salaries, statutory licences to practice or travel and subsistence costs incurred as part of the apprenticeship. The funding available to support apprenticeships through the apprenticeship levy supports the costs of apprenticeship training and end-point assessment only and is drawn down by the apprenticeship provide. 


Apprenticeships are for existing staff in their current roles not just for new jobs

Apprenticeships provide a structured training programme for anyone who needs new skills and knowledge for their role. This applies to existing staff in their current post, those who have been promoted and part-time staff. Apprenticeships are also available for staff on a fixed-term contract or a temporary contract. There must just be enough time in the contract to complete the apprenticeship. 


If you are a maintained school or a Trust with over £3M Salary bill you have been paying into a compulsory fund  since May 2017 that pays the full cost of apprenticeship training and assessment

Every month you pay 0.5% of your pay bill as part of the government Apprenticeship Levy, a tax which all organisations in England with over £3 million pay bill pay each. For maintained schools your own contribution is part of the Council’s levy, and for others this is being paid each month by whomever makes your payroll contribution.  You  can use this money to pay for apprenticeship training and delivery. You have to pay wages for your apprentice, but the training and development costs are drawn down from the Levy by your provider. The Council approve any funding for an apprentice and will create a record for your apprentice on government’s digital apprenticeship service.
Apprentices can be employees of any age over 16

Anyone over the age of 16 can be an apprentice and there is no upper limit on age for apprenticeships. In England most apprentices are over 25 and 2% are over 60. There is an £1000 incentive for you when your apprentice is 16-18 when they start, and incentives if the apprentice is a former looked after child under 25.


Apprentices must spend at least 20% of their time as an apprentice during their paid, hours completing their apprenticeship. This IS possible in a school environment

Apprenticeship off the job learning will be provided mostly by your training provider as a structured learning programme e.g. via lectures or course book work, alongside the time your apprentice spends researching and completing their assignments and projects. For the rest of the 20% time required, providers and line managers will agree how this can be achieved at school, for example using the time learning new tasks with colleagues that are not yet part of the apprentices’ day-to-day work responsibilities. There are over 2000 schools all of whom have successfully managed to make this important development time part of their working day. 


Apprenticeships can provide flexible knowledge and content

Apprenticeships are formal structured training programmes for specific occupations available for employed people in work to gain the skills they need to carry out their current role competently. Apprenticeship duration varies by occupation from 12 months to over 3 years for a degree level apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships are designed to deliver the knowledge, skills, experience and behaviours that a competent employee in this role would demonstrate. These are the skills that the provider delivers and you work with your provider to include the content that you need to respond to school priorities and skills gaps.

All Apprentices spend a minimum of 20% of their time as an apprentice as development time, in off the job training either at work on planned learning activities or with their provider. This is needed to help an apprentice absorb new knowledge and practice new skills.
An apprenticeship is open to someone with existing qualifications (even a degree) or for someone without any qualifications

Apprenticeships are for anyone who needs new skills and knowledge to be competent in their role. If your apprentice needs English or maths, this is also included as part of the apprenticeship. To confirm that the apprentice has reached the level of competency needed in the full range of experience, skills and knowledge for their occupation there is an end point assessment e.g. a project. Their line manager will work with the training provider to confirm that their staff member is competent in their job role. 
Your training provider can help you recruit an apprentice and is a key partner in your apprenticeship 

There is support to identify and recruit an apprentice for your vacancy, if this is a new role, including advertising on the national apprenticeship website and supporting your apprentice selection process. 
The off the job training in an apprenticeship helps your school 

Apprenticeships are a partnership between the apprentice, the approved training provider who delivers off the job training and the line manager supporting learning on the job as part of the apprentice’s day to day work. All apprenticeship off the job training must take place during the apprentice paid hours in their working day.

Training takes place in many ways, either led by the provider in their premises, through self-study, learning at work through new experiences or being coached by a line manager. 80% of apprentice time is spent at work carrying out their usual duties, a minimum of 20 % of time is spend in development activities learning new skills for their job. Much of the off the job learning will be quickly applied to the school context through assignments and projects that add value to the work of the school whilst providing valuable learning for the apprentice. 

For further information

There are lots of helpful sources of information for Head Teachers and key support staff in schools to support their investigations towards producing their own schools plan.   

Maintained schools should ask their Local Authority for more information:  

Other schools can contact Growth Works with Skills. 

This information is provided in partnership with the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC). For more information about CEC Careers Hubs please visit the Careers Hub Provider Access Policy.