Louise Doyle, Director, MESMA and Senior Associate at Strategic Development Network

LOUISE DOYLE, a further education consultant and director of quality assurance experts MESMA, argues that apprenticeships should be considered as a relevant and plausible path to a career in teaching despite the political protestations.

Coverage in the national press has again highlighted the development of teaching apprenticeships with some like Mike Kane, MP among other voices, stating ‘…teaching is not a craft, it’s not an apprenticeship’ and dismissing such moves as ‘…trying to downgrade what being a teacher is’.

Regarding the central point as to whether or not apprenticeships will downgrade the teaching profession, I’m unclear as to where the evidence for this is being drawn from.

If we focus on professions that offer Level 6 or 7 apprenticeships, they’re aligned to professional body recognition and include a significant proportion of academic learning, at least at undergraduate level. The emphasis must be, as it would with any academic content, on designing and delivering a quality programme of teaching.

In the case of the teaching profession, without seeing the detail of the proposed apprenticeship, it’s hard to see how any of us can make a judgment call that it will ‘downgrade the profession’.

We can make an assumption based on what has been made available in the public domain to date, that it will lead to qualified teacher status. Thus the content is more likely than not going to include a post-graduate degree. It will almost certainly have university professionals engaged in its development at some point in the process.

Surely it’s not unreasonable to suggest that the real issue here is our own cultural bias towards traditional routes into professions, alongside a view that apprenticeships are for those who are less academically able? I would argue that it is. At a basic level, an apprenticeship is simply a combination of paid work and off-the-job study, which can deliver the skills employers actually want from their workforces together with professionally recognised qualifications.

If utilising apprenticeships allows people to find a route into a career that isn’t otherwise available to them, why shouldn’t we look to create these opportunities while applying the same rigour to quality education as we would with a more traditional route?

If it helps to develop and retain the high levels of skill the country requires to remain competitive and move forward, particularly in regions such as my own in the North East where there is plenty of potential waiting to be unleashed, this is something I can support. If it helps small businesses to up-skill their existing workforce, by maintaining their employment while allowing time for study towards higher level qualifications, this surely ha to be a positive outcome?

I’m heartened by both the conversations and narrative that my colleagues and I are having with universities at the moment about degree level apprenticeships. It’s heartening to say with some confidence that in eight years of working with universities, I haven’t had as many frank and earnest discussions about the delivery of apprenticeships, as I have in the last six months. While we often talk of the potentially negative, unintended consequences of the reforms and the levy in particular, I optimistically see this increased engagement of universities as a positive.

I’ll go as far as to say I believe that the engagement of universities will be the single biggest factor in helping to shifting some of the highbrow perceptions of apprenticeships as being somehow a lesser alternative to traditional classroom-based further and higher education learning. We owe our young people already in successful careers, as a result of being brave enough to follow an alternative route into a profession, that respect surely?

These views are echoed by Mandy Crawford, senior associate at the Strategic Development Network who says that apprenticeship reforms have created exciting possibilities for individuals to access - in some instances for the first time - opportunities in new sectors, at new skill levels and in some professions otherwise the preserve of a traditional cohort of (typically graduate) learners.  

She says that a key government policy objective is not only achieving raised productivity, but also supporting progression in terms of social mobility and widening access.

“The creation of apprenticeship standards has led to a shift in the demand from roles such as business administration and customer service to higher and degree apprenticeships in digital, law, engineering, construction, management and health and social care among other professional occupations,” says Mandy Crawford.

“Employers will focus on the use of those apprenticeships and occupations that have most benefit. There is no suggestion that the outcome achieved by someone working towards a professional occupation in teaching via an apprenticeship should be considered anything other than equal to those who have followed other learning paths. Indeed in many ways the apprenticeship provides far more: a fully competent, work ready employee from the moment they complete their training."

Emily Dunn, founder and director of Gateshead-based Keyfort Group, which provides specialist support to individuals with brain injuries in the community, adds that apprenticeships have played a big part in the success not just of her company but also workforce.

“Historically, when looking to fill management positions, a pre-requisite would be that the individual is qualified to degree-level. This is no longer the case. We equally value not just workplace experience, but qualifications gained ‘on the job’ via apprenticeships and NVQs.

“Close to half of our management team has no degree qualification and has been developed internally, with the use of apprenticeships. I feel strongly that in today’s business world, apprenticeships mixed with learning invaluable work skills, are an excellent combination and make for a successful profession, regardless of what that profession may be.”

Louise Doyle, Director, MESMA and Senior Associate at Strategic Development Network

About Mesma: An online quality assurance tool kit specialist which was set-up in response to changes implemented by education watchdog Ofsted, which led to schools, colleges and independent providers receiving reduced notice of inspection.

About Strategic Development Network: Provides strategic programme services for educational policy reforms and is predominantly focusing attention on transitioning to the new Apprenticeships model in England.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Educating yourself in Prison: an inside job

Educating yourself in Prison: an inside job

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 2 days ago

RT @NCFE: ‘For as long as humans have worked, and whatever industry they may have worked in, success has always been predicated on having t…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page