The schools’ guide to apprenticeship reforms is out – what does it mean for you?

Ahead of some major changes to the way apprenticeships are funded in May this year, the DfE have published the ‘Schools’ guide to apprenticeship reforms’, here’s our quick guide to what you need to know.

What are the changes to apprenticeships this spring?

As part of its ongoing reform programme for apprenticeships outlined in ‘English apprenticeships: our 2020 vision’, the government is making changes to the way apprenticeships are funded.  From April 2017, employers will be subject to an apprenticeship levy.  The levy is currently set to be paid by employers with an annual payroll of £3 million or above, the levy is currently set at 0.5% of the pay bill.  Employers with a payroll of less than £3 million will be covered by an HMRC allowance, so will not have to pay the levy.

Alongside the introduction of the levy, the government is also changing the way that apprenticeships are funded, both for the new apprenticeship standards that have been developed, but also for existing apprenticeship frameworks.

How will the levy impact Schools?

It depends on the size of your payroll, maintained schools and large multi-academy trusts are all likely to be subject to the levy.  If you’re new to the apprenticeship levy, then this article we published in November is worth a read: ‘What Schools need to know about the apprenticeship levy’.

How do I know if our school is subject to the levy?

There is a technical definition of the pay bill that determines whether an employer is subject to the levy.  It’s likely your school business manager or whoever runs your payroll will be best placed to answer.

What are the changes to the apprenticeship funding system?

From May 2017, all apprenticeship starts will be funded under a new funding model.

For levy-paying employers, this means that they will fund the full cost of the apprenticeship from an apprenticeship levy account.

For non-levy-paying employers, they will be required to contribute 10% of the cost of the apprenticeship, with the remaining 90% funded by the public purse.

If a levy-paying employer exhausts the funds in their levy account, they can have more apprenticeships, but they would be funded in the same way as non-levy paying employers.

I’ve heard of a public sector apprenticeship target, does this affect schools?

The government are currently legislating to set a target for all public sector employers (which includes schools but not parliament) to employ an average of 2.3% of their headcount as apprentices.  This target applies to employers with 250 or more employees, so it’s likely that maintained schools and multi-academy trusts will be impacted, smaller schools will not be subject to the target.

What apprenticeships can be offered in schools?

There’s a wide range of available apprenticeships that can be used in schools, for example, teaching assistant, early year’s educator and school sports instructor apprenticeships, there are also apprenticeships in sectors that might suit non-teaching staff, for example, business and administration, catering and hospitality, facilities management, digital professions, accounting and finance.

Is there a teaching apprenticeship?

There is an apprenticeship standard under development, which is expected to be available for starts from September 2018.  Also in development are school business manager apprenticeships and apprenticeship standards to replace the existing frameworks.

So, they’re just for new staff?

No.  The Apprenticeship programme is an all-age system, there is no upper-limit.  Apprentices can be any age from 16 upwards and can be new recruits or existing staff that are moving to a new job role that requires substantial training.  To qualify for government funding an apprentice must be:

Employed in a real job

Working towards achieving an approved apprenticeship

Receive at least 12 months training in their job

Spend at least 20% of their time on off-the-job training

Paid at least the relevant national minimum wage



Gemma Gathercole is head of funding and assessment at Lsect

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