Teaching apprenticeship to launch ‘within months’

New FE teacher-training route could help colleges access £20m in levy payments
27th October 2017, 12:00am
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Teaching apprenticeship to launch ‘within months’


Getting enough talented people into teaching is a challenge for the whole education sector. But yesterday, applications opened for a new apprenticeship that could see thousands of new graduates become school teachers.

The postgraduate teaching apprenticeship, which education secretary Justine Greening said would “provide another pathway for talented graduates into [the] profession”, will be available from September 2018 (see box, above right), and will be funded directly through the apprenticeship levy.

FE providers, though, will have to wait before a FE-specific teaching apprenticeship is available. The FE learning and skills level 5 apprenticeship standard, currently awaiting approval from the Institute for Apprenticeships, has been in the pipeline since 2014. It has been designed as a teaching-based standard, and will be a route for current members of staff who aspire to hold a teaching qualification.

There are already a number of ways to become a qualified teacher in an FE setting - completing a level 5 diploma in education and training, or taking the Cert Ed or PGCE routes, for example - but it is hoped that the new apprenticeship will help to increase the number of qualified teaching staff in FE colleges, and also to train teachers in areas of short supply - such as technology and maths.

Teresa Frith, senior skills policy manager at the Association of Colleges, says the new standard could be available within the next couple of months, and that colleges are “very keen” to utilise their levy on it. The AoC has estimated that colleges are paying in the region of £20 million into the levy every year.

“We are aware that colleges and independent training providers alike are very keen to be able to utilise their levy, and even use co-financing to help with their staff development programmes for teachers,” Ms Frith says. “It would be interesting to see how the levy might be utilised to help retrain an existing teacher to become a specialist in maths, for example, where we know there’s an awful shortage.”

Earlier this year, a report by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) revealed that the number of learners studying initial teacher education (ITE) courses for FE had dropped by 22 per cent between 2013-14 and 2014-15 - the biggest year-on-year fall since the organisation started compiling data.

David Russell, chief executive of the ETF, says he hopes the new apprenticeship standards will be made available for colleges soon. “I hope that FE colleges and large providers will see them approved very soon so that their levy payments can be unlocked for this purpose,” he says.

But Frith says that while the development of the FE learning and skills level 5 apprenticeship - the equivalent of a HND or foundation degree - is welcome news, colleges are multi-faceted and offer “significantly more classroom-based learning” as well as apprenticeships, access to HE courses and full degrees. “For those, we should be looking at some higher levels of skills development in classroom-based education and training,” she says.

And David Powell, director of the Education and Training Consortium at the University of Huddersfield, says jobs must be created for people to take the apprenticeship in the first place. Everything, he says, “comes down to money”.

“I think there has been a tendency to focus on: ‘Oh well, the levy will solve the problem.’ But it seems to me the nub of the issue is that they’ve got to create jobs for people to do the apprenticeship, and without those paid jobs you may be able to pay them [but] not at a full teacher’s rate,” he says.

“The question is: how many people will that be attractive for? I just do not know, because people have got to live.”

The level 5 FE teaching apprenticeship was due to be submitted to the Institute for Apprenticeships this week, according to a spokesperson for the institute. Two further FE teaching apprenticeships - FE lead teacher and assessor coach - were submitted last month and are due to be considered by the IfA route panel in November.

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