Qualified Schools has launched the new Teaching Apprenticeship Programme to help schools recruit and train new graduates. Here, programme director Neil Gamewell explains why the programme provides a simple, fee-free and paid route into teaching.
How can the Teaching Apprenticeship Programme help alleviate the shortage of STEM teachers?
There are a number of reasons for the persistence of recruitment and retention problems across the teaching profession, which occur most acutely in STEM subjects. Worryingly, a Public Accounts Committee Report, published in January 2018, found 67% of those surveyed cited workload as the barrier to teacher retention.
There are significant and well documented issues around teacher pay, working conditions and workload – but the lack of ease by which graduates can enter the profession is a major issue too. The teaching profession over the years has made it way too difficult for schools to attract talented graduates. In my experience, existing routes to Qualified Teacher Status are seen as tortuous and unclear by many graduates. This issue is particularly acute for STEM subjects, where desperately needed high-skilled graduates are being tempted into other comparatively well-paid professions and industries.
This puts the onus on the teaching profession to create the right environment for these graduates to pursue a career in teaching. In particular, it needs to highlight the accessibility of teaching roles.
The Teaching Apprenticeship Programmes breaks this cycle by offering a simple to understand, fee-free and salaried route into teaching. After 9 months, graduates will achieve Qualified Teacher Status and within a year, have completed their End-Point Assessment to complete the apprenticeship. For this, they will receive a salary in line with the unqualified teacher pay scale.
Through grant and apprenticeship levy funding, the cost-burden for schools is very small in comparison to other routes.
Is the Teaching Apprenticeship Programme available all over the country? Are LA schools able to take part as well as free schools/academies?
Yes, all schools across the country can take advantage of the Teaching Apprenticeship Programme.
Access to grants may differ depending on the area or local authority, but access to apprenticeship levy funding is universal.
Local authority maintained schools should speak with their local authority about accessing funding from their centralised levy account to train teachers.
Following Damian Hinds’ announcement on QTS, how will the Teaching Apprenticeship Programme ensure high-quality candidates are recruited and retained?
The Education Secretary’s recent speech on the issue of teaching apprenticeships and QTS was encouraging mainly because it explicitly recognised the challenges facing trainee teachers. His confirmation of Government support for teaching apprenticeships was also encouraging. With Government backing I believe that teaching apprenticeships could become the flagship apprenticeship of this generation.
The Teaching Apprenticeship Programme only accepts graduates and the training is provided by a Department for Education approved Initial Teacher Training provider. Our principles are very much in line with the vision set out by Damian Hinds, namely to provide trainees with a clear structure and support in early career development.
The core idea of simplifying the teacher training process and providing clarity for new recruits allows them to strip away the unneeded extras and focus on reaching QTS.
The benefit for schools is that they can grow their own staff organically – they can pay graduates an unqualified teacher pay scale salary and develop them into the culture of their school.
Are schools using their apprenticeship levy funds effectively?
No, but the apprenticeship levy is still relatively new and many professions, not just teaching, are still getting to grips with the system and how to access funding.
In my experience, school leaders often have a limited understanding of the apprenticeship levy, what it means for them, and how they can make the most of it. What should concern them most about this situation is that if the money is not spent each year, it disappears.
Schools must plan to ensure they spend levy funds at the right time and on teachers, rather than lower skilled labour. If decisions are taken at the right time, many will be able to take advantage of grants as well as levy funding in order to minimise the costs of recruitment and training high quality candidates.
We recognise that the teaching profession is currently under significant pressure, so the Teaching Apprenticeship Programme guides schools through the process of accessing levy funds, step-by-step.
What advice do you have for people thinking of going into teaching, but are put off by the workload?
Teaching is a challenging, but immensely rewarding profession. This should be embraced. The road to becoming a qualified teacher is shorter and simpler than it may often seem.
If you are passionate about a topic or subject area, teaching is a profession that allows you to entertain these passions and grow them further. You get to work in an area that you enjoy and share your knowledge with others.
Seeing young people learn and develop into young adults ready for the world of work and life is an enriching experience, one that is unmatched by most professions.
There are stories in the media every day about workload pressures in teaching. The profession must grapple with this issue if it is to stand a chance of hiring great people, but such stories can also mispresent the very many positive aspects of teaching that go unreported.