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Spotlight on… Teacher Degree Apprenticeships

Teacher Degree Apprenticeships will shake up the sector. Here’s what you need to know, and how you can support your apprentices to thrive with epaPRO.

During National Apprenticeship Week earlier this year – one of the most pivotal in recent memory, given the certainty of an impending general election – a major announcement took place with the unveiling of a new apprenticeship: the Teacher Degree Apprenticeship.

Like other ‘Degree Apprenticeships’, this new pathway promises to combine the benefits of ‘on-the-job’ training with university-level education, creating a more streamlined (and debt-free) route for apprentices to become qualified teachers.

It’s not a minute too soon, with significant shortages and high turnover among education professionals. However, if apprentices are being counted on to help turn the sector’s fortunes around, then universities, EPAOs and training providers will need to ensure apprenticeship pathways prepare them to face the rigorous demands of the workplace.

Here’s what you need to know about the Teacher Degree Apprenticeship – and what you can do if you are involved in training the next generation of teaching apprentices at all levels.

 

What is the teacher degree-apprenticeship?

The Teacher Degree Apprenticeship, starting in September 2025, is a four-year programme that will train primary and secondary teachers to gain qualified teacher status (QTS).

The pathway will train apprentices through a combination of study (40%) and in-classroom work experience (60%). However, as a degree apprenticeship, the ‘study’ portion will be undertaken at university: the university acts as both training provider and EPAO.

Upon completion, apprentices will gain a full undergraduate or master’s degree, free of tuition fees, whilst the school/council/trust they are associated with will pay their salaries with levy funds.

 

Why was the Teacher Degree Apprenticeship launched?

Regardless of sector, apprenticeships are valuable for diverse sectors in the way in which they broaden the pool of qualified candidates. In this, the Teacher Degree Apprenticeship pathway is no different, and it will achieve this by:

  • Opening up teaching career opportunities that were previously limited to those with a university degree
  • Providing extra support for teaching assistants to transition into full-time teaching roles

However, the context surrounding the launch of this apprenticeship is all-important. As you are undoubtedly aware, the sector is facing an exceptional set of challenges.

 

What kind of market will teaching apprentices be entering?

Teaching apprentices are entering a market with two particular problems – recruitment and retention. In short, the problem is as follows:

 

The big picture:

Though it is by far from the only sector to be facing a talent shortage, the skills gap in teaching is well-known, given highly-publicised strike action since the end of the pandemic.

That being said, it is also particularly urgent. According to the Department for Education:

  • The UK will miss its 2024/5 target for primary teacher recruitment by 17%
  • For secondary school teachers, this increases to 39%
  • In 2023/4, the government recruited only half of the secondary school teachers it needed to

This is in spite of a significant cash injection of £196m by the DFE to support teachers through initial teacher training (ITT).

If financial incentives, plus a longstanding national ‘Get Into Teaching’ campaign aren’t turning the tide, the question is – why?

 

Recruitment and retention challenges:

As much as apprenticeships can relieve the financial burden of upskilling and entering a workforce, apprentices will face a number of challenges in the workplace. These include:

  1. Workload pressures

The most recent statistics reveal that in 2022 alone, 40,000 teachers resigned. This isn’t remarkable on its, own, but a greater proportion of teachers are retiring due to non-retirement-related reasons; the main one is workload, which puts enormous pressure on teachers’ well-being.

  1. Low salaries

Payment for teachers since the pandemic has grown more slowly than in other sectors, and combined with workload pressures and a cost-of-living crisis, contributes to high churn in the sector.

  1. Greener grass

Between offers to work outside the UK, and the choice of other higher-paying careers (including through apprenticeship pathways), teaching struggles to offer incentives to new recruits and career switchers.

In this context, it’s little wonder that apprenticeship starts within education and training have dropped sharply since the pandemic – from 8000+ in 2020/21 to just over 5,000 in 2023/4.

 

What can EPAOs, training providers and universities do to support teaching apprentices today?

Of course, the challenges facing new teachers are larger than any single EPAO, training provider or even university can solve – but there are reasons to be optimistic.

Each year, more and more teachers enter the profession, showing that in spite of difficult circumstances, many see the appeal of the role: a rewarding career that allows for family time, job security, generous holiday, and fulfilment.

What EPAOs, training providers and universities can control is how well they prepare apprentices to enter the workforce with confidence.

When apprentices are supported, they achieve better outcomes, but if your best intentions are made more difficult by an overwhelming amount of apps, communications or apprentices to manage, you need a platform that reduces admin burden and frees up your time to better support them.

epaPRO is an all-in-one platform that automates the most time-consuming tasks and workflows in EPA management - from booking assessors and updating standards to storing and communicating the resources and information that every stakeholder needs to ensure apprentice teachers thrive as they learn.

If that sounds like the solution you need, you can book a demo with our team to see exactly how it will work for you – and how it can transform the prospects of your new apprentice teachers.

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