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Can the new Teaching Apprenticeship solve the Recruitment Woes?

  • Publish Date: Posted 26 days ago

In eight out of the last nine years, there haven't been enough individuals entering the teaching profession in the UK. In the academic year 2023-24, only half of the planned secondary trainee teacher spots have been filled. The government faces a shortfall of over 13,000 secondary teachers to meet the recruitment goal for 2023-24. This shortage already affects schools, and recruitment shortfalls compound the impact in previous years.

The government has introduced teacher degree apprenticeships as a fresh route into teaching. This means aspiring teachers can earn a degree while working instead of needing a degree before starting teacher training.

While this approach may attract more people to teaching by making training more accessible, it's unlikely to address the shortage of teachers fully. Other issues like heavy workloads and stress also affect teachers leaving the profession. In the academic year 2021-22, almost 9% of teachers in England, totaling 39,930 individuals, resigned.

In this article, we'll dive into what the new teaching apprenticeship is and whether it will solve the recruitment woes.

What is a New Teaching Apprenticeship?

On 4 February, the Department for Education revealed plans for a new teaching apprenticeship to begin this autumn. This apprenticeship program, known as the teacher degree apprenticeship, will span over four years and allow individuals to train as primary or secondary teachers. It will also help more people earn money while they study for a degree.

This program offers a different way for people to become qualified teachers. It's mainly for those who can't study full-time for a degree, like teaching assistants or school staff. They can still become teachers through this program.

In this apprenticeship, trainees will spend about 40% of their time studying for their degree with a teacher training provider. They'll also become qualified teachers and won't have to pay for their tuition, so that they won't have student debt.

The announcement about this apprenticeship comes during National Apprenticeship Week. Apprenticeships are great for people of all ages and backgrounds to start successful careers. They can work many jobs, from nursing to space engineering, and even get degrees.

Since 2010, more than 5.7 million people have started apprenticeships. The government plans to invest even more in apprenticeships to help businesses grow.

Apprenticeships are essential for the government's plans. They offer a great way for people to start excellent careers and help the economy grow with skilled workers.

Key Features of the Apprenticeship:

  • Trainees will dedicate approximately 40% of their time to studying for their degree with an accredited teacher training provider.

  • Upon completion, trainees will attain qualified teacher status (QTS).

  • All tuition fees for the apprenticeship program will be covered.

Is this a Strategy to Attract More Teachers?

The government has been trying to attract more teachers by offering financial perks. For instance, a university graduate training to become a secondary maths teacher can get a tax-free scholarship of up to £29,000 while they train, which they don't have to pay back.

Those who have already trained as maths teachers can receive extra payments during their early career, added to their salary if they stay in teaching. For example, someone trained in 2020 will get £5,000 in 2024.

However, it seems this approach isn't convenient. In the academic year 2023-24, the government aimed to recruit 2,820 new physics teachers and offered scholarships and financial aid worth up to £29,000. However, they only managed to recruit 484 people, just 17% of the target.

These bonuses don't seem to be the main reason people become teachers. Yet, the government has relied on this strategy for many years with little success. The recent government decision to introduce apprenticeships for school staff is a positive step and will provide more paths into teaching.

Teacher apprenticeships aren't new. The Learning and Skills Teacher apprenticeship was introduced years ago to train people to teach in further education.

The government believes these new degree apprenticeships will open up opportunities for more people. A crucial part of this plan is to help teaching assistants—who already work in schools—become teachers. While this makes sense, it assumes that all teaching assistants want to become teachers, which may not always be accurate.However, suggesting that 40% of the time will be spent on studying and the remaining 60% on-the-job training is an excellent way to prevent burnout as new apprentice teachers start their careers. But this only works if it's followed and if apprentices don't need extra income to make up for the time they're not working.

What will be the Conditions of Work and Wellbeing?

A House of Commons report shows that secondary school teachers in England work around 49.3 hours per week, much more than the international OECD average of 41 hours. Primary school teachers work even longer hours, averaging 52.1 hours per week.

While financial incentives and apprenticeships try to ease the problem, they don't tackle the main issue. Without better working conditions for all teachers, job satisfaction will remain low, causing more teachers to leave. Training more teachers won't fix the problem if they keep quitting in large numbers.

Why Teacher Apprenticeships Can Help Solve the Teacher Recruitment Issue?

  • Finding and training new teachers can be challenging. In England, there aren't enough teachers. Training to become a teacher can be expensive, and not everyone can afford it. Also, new teachers often don't get enough support, so they leave the job quickly.

  • Apprenticeships can be a cheaper and better way to get new teachers. The Apprenticeship Levy funds them, so apprentices don't have to pay tuition fees. Also, apprentices get paid while they're training. Apprenticeships are shorter than traditional teacher training, making them more flexible for people already working.

  • Taking on apprentice teachers can be an excellent choice for schools. Apprentices often know the school well and fit in easily. They can become qualified teachers while working in the school. This helps the school and the apprentices grow together.

Will it lead to More Teachers?

The postgraduate apprenticeship, a 15-month program requiring an existing degree, was introduced in 2018. This year, 962 individuals started on this route, constituting 4% of all postgraduate trainees recruited. Last year, the pass rate for this apprenticeship was 85%, higher than the national average for level 6 apprenticeships, which stands at 65%.

Nursing apprenticeships have served as a model for the teaching apprenticeship initiative. In the previous year, 1,690 individuals completed a nursing degree apprenticeship, representing approximately 0.5% of the total workforce in England.

If a similar recruitment rate were achieved for the teaching apprenticeship, it could result in an additional 2,341 teachers per year, which is about 7% of the total target for 2024.

What are the Potential Concerns?

The National Education Union warns that this route could lower standards by putting underqualified and inexperienced teachers in classrooms. The NAHT leaders' union is worried about shortening degrees and teacher training.

However, Claire Harnden, South Farnham's deputy CEO, believes the course will be more condensed, allowing for practical application in the classroom. Claire Donnachie, deputy director of the trust's teaching schools hub, assures that unqualified teachers will have supervision.

Former NAHT general secretary Hobby insists on rigorous subject knowledge and a full honors degree. Ministers must consider primary schools' limited capacity for on-the-job training due to budget and infrastructure constraints.

Joe Guy, chief talent officer at the Academies Enterprise Trust, acknowledges challenges but believes they are manageable as teaching is passed down through generations.

How can Dunbar Education Support its Recruitment Efforts?

Dunbar Education is a reputable education recruitment agency that operates across various regions, including the South, the Midlands, London, and the Home Counties. We specialize in recruiting education professionals for Primary, Secondary, and Special Education Needs (SEN) settings on various bases, including day-to-day, short-term, long-term, and permanent placements.

Here's how Dunbar Education can support recruitment efforts for new teaching apprenticeships:

  1. Regional Expertise: With our regional teams operating across different areas, Dunbar Education deeply understands local education landscapes and can effectively connect with schools and candidates within those regions.

  2. Diverse Pool of Candidates: By tapping into our extensive network, Dunbar Education can attract a diverse pool of candidates for teaching apprenticeships, ensuring that schools can access a wide range of talent.

  3. Compliance Accreditation: Dunbar Education is Compliance+ Accredited by APSCo (the Association of Professional Staffing Companies), ensuring all candidates meet stringent compliance standards. This accreditation reassures schools regarding the quality and reliability of the candidates supplied by Dunbar Education.

  4. Government Framework Involvement: Being part of the CCS (Crown Commercial Service) government framework enhances our credibility and demonstrates our capability to deliver recruitment services effectively and efficiently to schools.

  5. Commitment to Excellence: Dunbar Education's recruitment teams are dedicated to our work and take pride in achieving excellence. Our commitment to providing high-quality services ensures that schools receive reliable and professional support throughout recruitment.

Dunbar Education's regional presence, diverse candidate pool, compliance accreditation, involvement in government frameworks, and commitment to excellence equip us to support recruitment efforts for new teaching apprenticeships.

Our expertise and professionalism can help address recruitment woes by providing schools access to qualified and reliable candidates for teaching roles.