The Apprenticeship Levy has been a controversial change for many organisations, with the change affecting educational institutions the most.

In this guide, we’ll address some of the most common queries around the Apprenticeship Levy for schools - giving you a better understanding of off-the-job training, available standards and how to overcome budgeting problems.

What’s included in 20 per cent off-the-job training?

Under the new rules, employers must ensure their apprentices are spending the requisite amount of time in off-the-job training. Employees must pay their apprentices their regular salary (at least minimum wage) during off-the-job training, which can’t include any on-programme assessment required within the framework or standard they’re doing.

Off-the-job training must be carried out within working hours and can’t be considered as ‘homework’ 20% off the job trainingthe apprentice can do while off the clock. If the learner attends training outside of their normal working hours, the expectation is that they would be given that time back in lieu of them attending evening or weekend workshops/classes. Traditionally, the way this has been carried out is with the apprentice either spending one day a week (or one week a month) at the training provider, or a combination of both on and off-the-job training with both the provider and employer. However, off-the-job training doesn’t necessarily mean ‘away from the workplace’ - in some cases it’s possible to carry out training at an apprentice’s workstation.

Training needs to be directly relevant to the apprenticeship framework or standard, and could include the following:

  • Lectures

  • Role playing

  • Simulation exercises

  • Online learning

  • Shadowing

  • Mentoring

  • Industry visits

  • Assignments

For more information around off-the-job training requirements, read our handy guide here.

How do schools use their funds?

For community and voluntary-controlled schools, the local authority is the employer, and so is responsible for payment of the Apprenticeship Levy for schools under their control. It is the same for faith schools if they are voluntary-controlled, otherwise it will be the governing body.

For voluntary-aided and foundation schools, the governing body is the employer - if the governing body’s pay bill is more than £3 million then it will need to pay the Levy.

For free schools, schools in single academy trusts, multi-academy trusts and co-operative schools, the trust is generally the employer and has its own autonomy to use their Levy funds.

The Department for Education has confirmed that public sector bodies require a minimum of 2.3 per cent of their workforce to be apprentices by 2020. For more information, read the article in FE Week.

What standards are available?

Apprenticeship standards are being approved for delivery on a daily basis, although we’re aware that standards for schools can be a little more difficult to assimilate. We’ve listed several standards below that could help with your school’s training and development needs.

  • Property maintenance operative - level 2
    Duration: 12 months
    This can include roles such as: facilities assistant, caretaker and property engineer.

  • Supporting teaching and learning in schools (framework) - level 2/3/4
    Duration - 12/15/18 months 
    This can include roles such as: teaching assistant, senior teaching assistant.

  • Children and young persons workforce - early years pathway/educator - level 2/3apprenticeship levy for schools
    Duration: 12/18 months
    This can include roles such as: support staff in foundation unit, teaching assistant.

  • Assistant accountant - level 3
    Duration: 18 months
    This can include roles such as: finance assistant, assistant accountant and trainee accounting technician.

  • Infrastructure technician - level 3
    Duration: 12 months
    This can include roles such as: ICT technician, IT support technician and IT service desk operative.

  • Chartered manager degree apprenticeship - level 6
    Duration: 48 months
    This can include roles such as: Business manager, Heads of departments and Senior Managers involved in strategic decisions for the school.

  • Team leader/supervisor - level 3
    Duration: 12 months
    This can include roles such as: Department Leads, Teaching Assistant Supervisors or Facilities/Catering Team Leaders

  • Digital and technology solutions professional - level 6
    Duration: 36 months
    This can include roles such as: Head of IT Department, IT Engineer  

Standards approved for delivery since October 2017:

  • Teacher – level 6
    Duration: 12 months

  • School business professional - level 4
    Duration: 18 months

Standards currently in development:

  • Level 7 academic professional

  • Level 6 early years senior practitioner (degree)

  • Level 5 early years practitioner

  • Level 3 teaching assistant

What about the school budget?

Budgets can be a huge issue for schools, with many stating that they can’t afford to take on new apprentices through the Apprenticeship Levy. However, the Levy isn’t just about taking on new apprentices - schools can use their funds to upskill existing workforce and develop their own staff through apprenticeship standards.

Whether you opt to take on new, entry-level staff or invest in broadening the skillset of your existing employees, it should largely be guided by what your school’s looking to achieve in the short, medium and long-term.

Over to you

While we’ve hopefully resolved any concerns you have had with the Apprenticeship Levy, if you’ve got any questions about the topics we’ve covered above, be sure to get in touch via LinkedIn or Twitter.

If you’re looking for bespoke advice on upskilling your existing employees or taking on new apprentices, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of Levy experts:

Talk to our Levy team →