Alice is doing her postgraduate teaching apprenticeship at St Martin’s C of E Voluntary Aided Schools in Epsom, with Surrey South Farnham SCITT (School-Centred Initial Teacher Training).

Apprenticeships are a great route into teaching if you prefer first-hand experience

I worked in a nursery during and after university. I thought it was the best route for me. It was useful implementing what I’d learned from uni into work. I then worked in Australia for a year as an au pair, with a child who had behavioural needs. I worked closely with his mum, and found that a fantastic experience.

I considered doing a PGCE. But then I went to a teacher training event where I could find out about the routes available and ask questions. I learned about Teacher Training Advisors; experienced teachers who talk to you on the phone about the different teacher training routes available. That’s how I found out about the apprenticeship route.

If you enjoy learning practically and on the job, I highly recommend it. It’s an opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge into the classroom and embed that knowledge

​With the application process, take on any support that you are offered. The training events and training adviser are two things that really helped me decide on my route.

It’s great to think about what you want from the school and the provider and what you’re looking for, as well as ensuring you’re the right candidate for them. I would have found this very different without finding the right provider and school. I feel very fortunate to have these.

A support network is there to help you through every step of application and interviews

My Teacher Training Advisor directed me through the application process. I wrote a personal statement, discussed my experience, drafted it up and he had a look. 

I got through and then he explained the next steps. We did mock interviews together, so I felt well prepared when the interview took place.

I went to Surrey South Farnham SCITT (School-Centred Initial Teacher Training) for my interview. They gave me a lot of information and went through the training plan. They explained the importance of finding the right school for me.

Surrey South Farnham offered me the position, so I then went into researching different schools in the area. That’s how I found St Martin’s. I got such a lovely feeling from them. I was able to see the support they gave staff and could see the children were at the heart of their practice. That sold it to me.

The transition into teaching isn’t intimidating or stressful

St Martin’s and Surrey South Farnham worked together to start my induction process. They arranged for me to come for a visit and meet the school class.

The first week was observations; getting to know the class and building relationships with the children. Then at first you co-plan and co-teach the lessons. The class teacher coaches me, as we’re together in the lessons. I really enjoy that. It’s an effective way to learn. Then as the weeks progress you take on more responsibility, you plan lessons independently and teach them; it’s fantastic! The feedback and targets from my mentor have been so effective and in line with my training.

During the final bit of term you have your end assessments. You then meet with the SCITT and your mentor to clarify that everything is going ok as you enter your NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) year.

The apprenticeship route into teaching can be really rewarding

I am so pleased with the choice I’ve made! The level of support you are given for this route into teaching is incredible. This year has given me a lot of opportunities to get stuck in, and it has helped my confidence. Having the class teacher observe me and give me tips and coaching ideas to support me whilst I’m learning means I can try those ideas straightaway whilst they’re fresh in my mind.

As apprentices, you’re encouraged to socialise with your team and with your course. It’s the best of both worlds. I’ve built a great relationship with my class teacher and other teachers in Year One, as well as other members in school. I’m treated as a member of the team - I don’t feel like a trainee or student.

People think of apprenticeships as something you do when you finish school, but it’s easy to explain that this is another route into teaching.

An education employer’s perspective on apprenticeship applications

"This apprenticeship is a good route, with that hands-on experience. You can see how the class teacher starts on the very first day - setting those high expectations, the relationships and routines - because hopefully the following year the apprentice will do just that."

"With Alice, it was her enthusiasm when she came and looked round. And her experience of working with children in nursery and running a room. She’s got that understanding of working with other staff, the deployment of staff and the behaviour management of children."

"We have PGCE students with us as well, but a SCITT student is about a term ahead of a PGCE student when they join at the same time."

- Kate Marchesi, Head of St Martin’s C of E Voluntary Aided Schools