Teachers to earn while they learn with fee-free apprenticeship degree

Teachers to earn while they learn with fee-free apprenticeship degree

An apprenticeship scheme will pay for teachers to study for a degree while they work in classrooms (PA)

PA Wire

Trainee teachers will be able to earn while they learn after ministers announced a “game-changing” apprenticeship scheme providing cost-free degrees.

The Department for Education (DfE) said its teacher degree apprenticeship programme will offer an alternative route for people to become qualified teachers.

It is aimed at those who are not able to take time out to study full-time for a degree, including some of England’s 400,000 teaching assistants in state-funded schools, or staff already working in education institutions.

Apprentices will spend about 40% of their time studying for their degree with an accredited teacher-training provider while also gaining experience in the classroom to earn their qualified teacher status (QTS).

The teacher degree apprenticeship will open up the profession to more people, from those who want a career change to those who are looking for an earn and learn route without student debt

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan

With all tuition fees paid for, DfE officials said trainees “won’t be saddled with student debt”.

Making the announcement in National Apprenticeship Week, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: “The teacher degree apprenticeship will open up the profession to more people, from those who want a career change to those who are looking for an earn-and-learn route without student debt.

“It will be a game-changing opportunity for schools to nurture and retain talent from the ground up, helping apprentices to gain the knowledge and skills they need to teach future generations.’’

The apprenticeship programme will take four years and be available for both primary or secondary prospective teachers.

It will build on the postgraduate teaching apprenticeship by offering a work-based route to attaining a degree and QTS, Ms Keegan’s department said.

To train to teach in secondary schools in England, applicants need to have GCSEs at grade 4 — equivalent to a C — or above in English and maths, with those wanting to teach at primary level also needing the same minimum grade in science.

Teacher-hopefuls also are required to have a bachelor’s degree in any subject, with some training providers insisting a grade level of 2:2 or above.

To support schools to offer the new apprenticeship, the UK Government said it will start a pilot scheme working with a small number of schools and teacher-training providers to fund up to 150 apprentices to teach maths in secondary schools.

Training providers will bid to take part in the pilot and trainees will be recruited from this autumn, starting their training the following year.

The pilot will then be used to inform the future of the programme, the DfE said.

Jennifer Coupland, chief executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, said: “Having this alternative quality route into teaching should make a big difference with encouraging people from wider backgrounds into the profession, helping with social mobility and making sure schools get all the talented teachers they need.

“I think it is also really important that this will provide extra support for brilliant teaching assistants and other people working in schools, who want to be teachers, to make that next step.”

But the Association of School and College Leaders said the new scheme would not solve the teacher recruitment crisis.

The union said the “real answer” to dealing with the shortage involved improving teaching salaries and tackling “high levels of workload and stress” that drive people out of the profession.

General secretary Geoff Barton said: “We think this is a good idea in principle, but it is unlikely that teacher degree apprenticeships will provide anywhere near the number of qualified teachers required to solve the recruitment and retention crisis.

“We are concerned about how realistic this will be in reality for many schools given the number of competing demands on them and the lack of sufficient staffing and funding in the education system.

“In any event, it will take a long time before degree apprenticeships make any impact at all on the recruitment and retention crisis being experienced by schools and colleges right now, and we think it is likely that the system will continue to rely on the traditional postgraduate training routes for the foreseeable future.”

Labour’s Bridget Phillipson, the shadow education secretary, said: “This measure is mere window dressing from a Conservative government that has overseen a mass exodus of teachers from our classrooms.

Teachers are leaving in their droves, while too few are being recruited — the result of the Conservatives destroying the crucial relationship between Government and schools.

“Labour will reset that relationship and invest in recruiting thousands of expert teachers to drive high and rising standards in our state schools.”

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