Plans for a teaching apprenticeship to allow non-graduates to train as school teachers have been shelved, Tes can reveal.
The Trailblazer group of schools and teacher training bodies behind the existing level 6 teaching apprenticeship for graduates had expressed an interest in creating an alternative “undergraduate” apprenticeship for people without a degree, intended to give teaching assistants (TAs) a route into teaching.
The group was asked by the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) to assess the need for such an apprenticeship in the profession. But, having failed to demonstrate sufficient demand in a survey of stakeholders, the plans are not being developed. The decision is not expected to be revisited for at least another year.
Teaching apprenticeships: clear demand?
Emma Hollis, executive director of the National Association of School Based-Teacher Trainers, said she was “very disappointed” by the decision, and that she believed a work-based route into teaching would have attracted plenty of interest from TAs.
“We thought that was something we ought to investigate; we felt there was a lot of need for it, a lot of demand for it,” she said. “And we could give quite clear anecdotal evidence from various different regions of a need for that route in [to teaching]. The IfA tasked the [Trailblazer] group with going away and gathering evidence to prove ‘additionality’.
“What [the IfA and the Education and Skills Funding Agency] said to us was that the evidence [from the teacher training bodies consulted] wasn’t strong enough – it didn’t prove a great enough need. I was very disappointed and will be pushing to revisit [the decision] at the earliest possible opportunity, whenever that might be.”
'Dumbing down the profession'
The move to allow non-graduates to train as teachers had attracted some criticism from teacher trainers concerned about “dumbing down the profession”, Ms Hollis added.
Sir Andrew Carter, a member of the teaching Trailblazer group and an adviser to the government on teacher training, said that, having consulted with universities and school-centred initial teacher training organisations, “there wasn’t a great deal of enthusiasm for a non-graduate entry at this stage”.
“You can make [apprenticeships] attractive and exciting for the employee, but that may not be sustainable for a business to run,” he said.
The Trailblazer group still plans to explore whether having a dual system – with apprenticeship routes for both graduates and non-graduates – could be possible in the future, Sir Andrew added.
A spokesperson for the IfA said: “The teacher Trailblazer [group] currently has no plans to amend the existing teacher apprenticeship to turn it into an ‘undergraduate’ degree apprenticeship.”
In Monday’s budget, chancellor Philip Hammond announced that the amount that non-levy-paying companies have to contribute towards the cost of apprenticeship training will be halved, from 10 per cent to 5 per cent. It has not yet been confirmed when this change will come into effect.
Concerns have also been raised about delays in introducing a FE learning and skills level 5 apprenticeship standard, which is currently awaiting approval from the IfA, having been in the pipeline since 2014.