Make apprenticeship routes a big part of your leadership development plans

Make apprenticeship routes a big part of your leadership development plans

Apprenticeships now offer a cost-effective route to professional development of school leaders, but many schools have yet to grasp the opportunity, writes Tracy Clement, Best Practice Network’s Apprenticeships Director.

 Spending on professional development doesn’t represent a big portion of school budgets; schools have historically spent just one per cent of their annual budgets on CPD.

 Given that the research clearly points to professional development having a huge impact on school improvement and staff retention, it’s an area of spend that should be protected and ideally expanded.

 The introduction of the apprenticeship levy in 2017 offers a way of increasing professional development spend without exerting too much pressure on the budget. As it currently stands, the levy requires organisations with a payroll of more than £3 million to pay 0.5 per cent of their salary bill into an apprenticeship fund, with the money needing to be used within 24 months.

 That £3 million measure will apply to larger academy trusts as well as local authorities. And when you break it down to the individual school level, it equates to the average secondary school paying £30,000 per year into the levy.

 All schools have access to this ring-fenced funding to support staff at all levels onto apprenticeship training programmes. These work-based training programmes are designed to help employers train individuals for specific job roles.

 An apprenticeship isn’t just for new staff and young people – they can be used to upskill and train existing staff of all ages and at any level, from GCSE-equivalent level 2 training through to level 7 – equivalent to Master’s level.

 That means school leaders can now access professional development. Here at Best Practice Network, we have identified the need for schools to have access to high-quality apprenticeship programmes that include the reformed  NPQ leadership programmes.

 Our current programme – the Level 5 Operational/Departmental Manager Apprenticeship with NPQSL  – is proving very popular, with hundreds already enrolled and many more applying for Autumn 2021. We also have new Level 7 apprenticeship programmes on the way in September that include NPQs for executive leaders (with NPQEL) and headteachers (with NPQH).

 These dual qualifications cover the best of both worlds: reading and engagement with research is of course a key aspect of developing as a leader and the apprenticeship enhances this by building in opportunities to build practical experience in a range of areas appropriate to leadership roles, including corporate social responsibility, health and safety legislation and HR management.

 Apprenticeship participants will also develop and consolidate their skills and knowledge in areas such as risk mitigation and contingency, contract terms and conditions, strategic financial planning and funding and financial regulation. And they’ll learn about and apply tools and techniques to develop and implement effective organisational projects, business continuity design and essential time and self-management techniques.

 Over the coming months, we will (hopefully) begin to put the pandemic behind us and plan for the future. Professional development, including cost-effective apprenticeship routes, is sure to be a big part of those plans.

 Next steps: For advice and guidance on using the apprenticeship levy for professional development at your school go to