Schools across Oxfordshire are experiencing the benefits of offering apprenticeship opportunities to young people in a wide variety of roles. From lab technicians to PE teaching, business administration to ICT support, apprentices are making a valuable contribution in school settings.
Many Oxfordshire schools are entitled to receive financial support to pay for formal apprenticeships training from the council's Apprenticeship Levy fund.
The Department for Education has released A guide to apprenticeships in the schools workforce (pdf format), which is aimed at school leaders, governing bodies, local authorities and academy trusts. It explains:
- what apprenticeships are
- how schools can use apprenticeships
- how the apprenticeship levy applies to schools
- how the public sector apprenticeship target applies to schools.
Who can be an apprentice?
An apprentice is an individual who undertakes a formal training programme in a work-based environment. The training programme must be recognised as an Apprenticeship Framework or Standard, and is delivered by an approved apprenticeship training provider. The individual can be a new or existing employee and will meet the following eligibility criteria to qualify for funding:
- Over 16 years of age
- Has lived in UK/EU for past three years
- Is not in full time education
- Must have a contract of employment (term-time only is usually possible for roles based in schools)
Further criteria may be applicable depending on the type of apprenticeship. The training provider will be able to advise you about this.
What do apprentices get paid?
Apprenticeships are entry-level posts with an expectation that skills and knowledge will be developed on the job and through training. The council has a special trainee grade for Intermediate (Level 2) Apprenticeships:
- Apprentices start on £5.46 per hour, or £10,504 per year based on a 37 hour/week contract.
- After successful completion of probation (usually after 6 months), this rises to £5.72 per hour, or £11,009 per year.
- After 12 months, this rises to the lowest point of the green book payscales (Grade 1). This timescale is not altered if a candidate works part time or term time only, it must be 12 months after the apprentice’s start date to comply with national minimum wage legislation.
Advanced (Level 3) Apprenticeship roles are job evaluated and usually paid at a Grade 3. All maintained schools using the council’s Green Book terms and conditions for non-teaching staff should use these rates.
Please note that external training providers such as local FE colleges and the National Schools Apprenticeship Service may quote the National Apprentice Minimum Wage in their promotional materials, which is much lower than the council’s apprentice wage. It is not possible to pay apprentices this rate if they work for a school where the council is the employer.
The salary of the apprentice is funded and paid by the school employing them.
If the school pays the Apprenticeship Levy, apprenticeship training costs can be fully funded from their Levy pot, provided there are sufficient funds available. If the Levy pot has already been spent, the government funds 90% of the cost of the training.
If the school does not pay the Levy (usually the case for smaller academies, voluntary aided or foundation schools with a payroll bill of less than £3 million), then the government funds 90% of the cost of the training.
Minimum and maximum working hours
The majority of the council's apprentices are on full time contracts, 37 hours a week. It is possible to offer apprenticeships on a part-time basis but before agreeing this, practicalities should be discussed in advance with the training provider, for example there may be specific days of the week that the provider delivers classroom training. Time off for training, either for college day-release or for formal work-based assessments is included in the apprentice's paid contracted hours.
Time off for training
Apprentices are given 20% time off for their training as part of their paid contracted hours. The training provider will advise whether the apprenticeship training requires day-release for attendance at college, or whether training can be delivered in the workplace setting. Apprentices spend no more than one day per week training. Their learning under close supervision whilst working is also recognised as an important part of their development..
How can I find a training provider?
Oxfordshire Apprenticeships is a team that helps employers across Oxfordshire make sense of apprenticeships, including finding a suitable training provider.
Where the local authority is the employer, schools can access Levy funds via the council’s HR team. The HR team will help to identify a training provider from our approved supplier list, and provide guidance on recruitment (if applicable).
If you're thinking of taking on an apprentice but aren't sure how to get started, contact the HR Team on 07500 571221 or 07552 103354 or email email@example.com. We support the recruitment of apprentices for the council, and can advise you about a suitable job description and possible training options. Once a job description has been finalised and a training provider sourced, the recruitment process follows the IBC route, as with other posts.