Grow your own – new apprentice programme taps into teacher recruitment in Luton schools

With a severe shortage of teachers across the country and rising pupil numbers, it is essential schools look to new routes to get teachers into their classrooms. Here, we speak with Ashcroft High School Business Manager Julie Ellins about how a Luton-based school has utilised a new Teaching Apprenticeship Programme (TAP), devised by The Education Placement Group (EPG), to solve their recruitment issues. 

The Education Policy Institute (EPI) just released the results of a new study – The teacher labour market in England: shortages, subject expertise and incentives – which examines the most recent figures on how numbers of teachers and their quality vary. The report highlights a major shortage of teachers across the country. Additionally, pupil numbers have risen by approximately 10% in the last eight years.  

Furthermore, the report shows that new teachers are not moving in to fill the gaps as quickly as they once were – teacher training applications are down by 5%, and training targets have been repeatedly missed in maths and science. 

Teacher exit rates have risen too; the EPI found that just 60% of teachers remain in state-funded schools for five years after starting. For high-priority subjects such as maths and physics, retention drops to just 50% after five years. With education workforce recruitment and retention issues persisting, it is vital that new routes into teaching are explored and funding is fully utilised. 

Ashcroft High School, Luton has done just that by participating in a new Teaching Apprenticeship Grow your own – new apprentice programme taps into teacher recruitment in Luton schoolsProgramme (TAP) Launched this year by EPG, TAP screens, sources and recruits graduates for all subjects (including STEM) at both Primary and Secondary levels. TAP supports schools in accessing available apprenticeship levy funding and delivers (through an approved IT provider) a one-year training programme which guides apprentices towards Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and End Point Assessment (EPA).

Teaching apprenticeships provide schools with useful benefits, for example Inner London schools can access grants of up to £17,400 to support the recruitment of graduates to teach subjects with staff shortages. For the graduate, it enables them to embark upon a fee-free route to achieving QTS. Trainee teachers will be paid in line with the unqualified teacher salary scale starting at £20,909 in Inner London and £16,626 across the rest of the country, alongside a valuable training package.

Given the complex nature of the numerous routes into teaching, EPG’s TAP provides a simple way for schools to tackle workforce gaps and for talented graduates to enter the profession.

Fourteen teaching apprentices started at Ashcroft High School this September. Throughout the year-long programme, the apprentices will be mentored by current staff, work one-on-one with students, observe lessons and, eventually, take their own classes. The apprentices will teach the following subjects: maths, science, history and music.  

Ashcroft High School Business Manager Julie Ellins stated that TAP had been a valuable way to attract high quality teachers to Luton – an area which had proved particularly difficult to recruit to in the past. 

“Being a Luton school, it is very difficult to recruit; the majority of schools in this area do have recruitment and retention problems,” Julie said.

“This programme ensures we get the right calibre of candidates and enables us to embed the graduates into our school. We work hand-in-hand with the training provider to make sure the teaching apprentices have a great experience and want to keep teaching in our school,” she said. 

“It allows us to grow our own staff; train them to the way our school works and embed them into the school as a member of staff straight away.”

On successful completion of the Teaching Apprenticeship Programme, the teaching candidates are likely to be offered positions at Ashcroft High School or one of three other Luton Futures partner schools in the area.  

For more information on the Teaching Apprenticeship Programme, visit