Schools - apprenticeship reforms and implications for schools as employers

From April 2017 Government reforms will mean changes to the funding and delivery of apprenticeships to meet a national target of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020.

The following information is about apprenticeships delivered by schools as employers (not as a qualification for pupils). It is intended for head teachers, school business managers or bursars.

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The Department for Education has published documents and guidance about these changes and the implications for schools. The documents are available from the National Apprenticeship Service:

Cornwall Council will be responsible for paying the levy for local authority (LA) maintained schools (community and voluntary controlled). The levy cost will be deducted at source by payroll and passed to HMRC along with tax and NI. The cost of the levy will be passed onto schools in the same way that employer NI and pension costs are currently, with the school pay bill increasing by 0.5%.

Trust and VA schools currently on the Council’s payroll will remain there where their individual pay bill is less than £3m.  Where a Trust or VA school exceeds this figure they will be moved onto their own payroll with a separate PAYE reference.

The levy funds for Cornwall Council workforce and LA maintained schools will be held in a digital account which the Authority will be able to draw on to support the training and development of apprentices employed by the Council, including those in LA maintained schools.  Individual schools will not have direct access to their individual levy funds due to the way HMRC collects and returns the levy funds via the PAYE system.

The digital account will be centrally managed by the HR Talent and Development team. This will provide a central resource to ensure that the required management and reporting of all apprentice starters and leavers is undertaken to meet government, organisational and digital account requirements.

Pooling resources in this way could result in better use of public funds for the wider schools workforce; smaller schools could access funds greater than their contribution; and the schools workforce as a whole would be more likely to meet its apprenticeship targets.  However we are also aware that pooling resources may mean that the levy contribution made by schools that don’t employ apprentices could be used by other schools via the digital account.

Information for schools where the local authority is not the employer, including standalone academies, academies that are part of multi-academy trusts, foundation and voluntary aided schools, can be found in the links below:

The government is encouraging local authorities and schools to work together, using the levy to meet skills gaps and plan future workforce needs and we are exploring ways of achieving this in Cornwall. Within Cornwall Council, apprentice opportunities will increasingly become part of wider workforce and succession planning activities. This will ensure we maximise our levy account funds over the next three years and contribute to the building and development of our future workforce particularly in services where there are skills gaps and skills shortages.

The government has proposed targets (a Public Sector Duty) for public sector organisations, including publicly funded schools, to increase the number of apprentices they employ.  Based on current headcount for the total Council workforce, including LA maintained schools, apprenticeship targets may be in the region of 160 per annum (130 Council workforce; 30 LA schools workforce).  Details of how the Duty will work are still being finalised. In the meantime, we are taking a whole Council approach and will work towards achieving the targets through new apprentice starts and through development opportunities for existing employees.

The changes to apprenticeships will be a challenge to all employers and will place additional burdens on already stretched budgets and resources. However the changes do provide an opportunity to plan and build the workforce skills and capabilities needed now and in the future.  As well as identifying apprenticeships opportunities for new employees, existing staff can utilise apprenticeships to gain new skills and progress their careers. Providing apprenticeships and routes into apprenticeships are an integral part of Cornwall’s wider economic and skills strategy and education strategy by helping to raise skills and aspirations.

Apprenticeships are a cost effective way to add skilled, productive employees to your workforce. Participating in an Apprenticeship programme will enable you to address skills gaps and give you skilled, loyal employees who understand the unique values of your school.

There are a range of opportunities across the school workforce for Apprenticeship schemes. These can include Teaching Assistants, PE & School Sport, School Office & Business Administration, ICT Support, Catering, Facilities Services and more.

A new post-graduate teacher apprenticeship standard has been approved for delivery. This is a school-led initial teacher training (ITT) route developed by schools, coordinated by the Teaching Schools Council. Schools will be able to use their apprenticeship levy to support the training of new, high quality teachers. The maximum funding allocation is £9000 and the duration is 12 months.

Apprentice teachers will have to meet the same statutory requirements for entry as all other ITT programmes, and successful completion will be assessed against the Teachers' Standards. Upon successful completion the apprentice teacher will be awarded Qualified Teacher Status. More information can be found on the Department for Education's website. The Apprenticeship standard and the end-point assessment plan for the post-graduate teaching apprenticeship is on the Institute for Apprenticeships website.

In preparation for the reforms the Council has reviewed pay rates for apprentices.  The rates to apprentices recruited to LA maintained schools who are recruited on the same pay rates and Terms & Conditions as core Council apprentices.

The new pay rates will take effect from April 2017 and reflect current market rates (based on the available local market data) and ensure the Council is competitive against other large employers within the private and public sector in Cornwall and Devon.

The rates are based on payment of a spot salary based on the Level of apprenticeship and aligned with National Minimum/National Living Wage together with rates of roles apprentices are likely to progress into.  Consultation with the trade unions has been undertaken.  The rates are available on the What is an Apprenticeship page.

Further information about our apprenticeship strategy and programme can be found on the Apprenticeships page.

For further information and advice contact the HR Talent & Development Team on 01872 324600 or email talentandredeployment@cornwall.gov.uk