The Department for Education has confirmed a teaching apprenticeship will be available to schools within the next two years.

Jonathan Slater, the department’s permanent secretary, speaking at a Public Accounts Committee this afternoon on schools finances, said it was important that teaching apprenticeship schemes are in place as soon as possible.

From April, schools with large wage bills must pay an “apprenticeship levy”, which they will be able to claim back to cover the cost of trainees.

However, Slater admitted plans for a teacher apprenticeship route were still a “work in progress” though they should be ready by September 2018.

“I’m determined that schools have accessible to them a teaching apprentice scheme within the two-year period they get to spend the money.”

Slater said there could be both a teaching and school business apprenticeship, adding it was a “good thing for schools to consider the potential of using [the schemes]”.

Schools Week reported last week that schools were officially confirmed as one of the public sector bodies now required to employ a set number of apprentices each year.

The move comes despite schools expressing concerns about the affordability of paying the levy, as well as “practical difficulties” in employing them given no teaching apprenticeship currently exists.

School leaders have said they will be unable to cover the required number of apprenticeship starts from other training routes, such as business administration.

Yet Slater revealed he did not lobby for schools to be kept out of the apprenticeship levy because he sees it as an “opportunity” for greater training in the sector.

Meg Hillier, chair of the committee, said routes into teaching were already complicated, stating that adding apprenticeships into the mix could make it “mind bogglingly-complicated”.

She also said it could give the impression of different “pecking orders” of teachers.

But Slater said the department is considering how it can “tweak” existing routes to “take advantage” of the levy.

Last year, Schools Week revealed that a group of schools was planning an “entirely vocational pathway” to qualified teacher status, and had sought the backing of government for its new apprenticeship.

Head of the education funding agency, Peter Lauener, said at the hearing today that work regarding the standards was still ongoing.