A group of schools across Teesside is creating apprenticeship opportunities to enable teaching assistants to become fully qualified teachers.
Ad Astra Academy Trust, which has eight primary schools under its umbrella, has teamed up with Stockton Teacher Training Partnership to run the programme.
The teaching apprenticeship scheme will see a number of current Ad Astra teaching assistants embark on the one-year programme to become fully qualified teachers.
The apprenticeships are being created at Ayresome and Sunnyside primary schools in Middlesbrough and West View Primary School in Hartlepool.
Andy Brown, OBE, Chief Executive Officer at Ad Astra said: “The teaching apprenticeship scheme provides a fantastic opportunity to grow our own talent and enable teaching assistants to progress their education careers.
“It enables teaching assistants and higher teaching assistants to receive high-quality training on the job and become a fully qualified teacher without having to pay course fees.
“The apprenticeship route should also appeal to existing graduates who are considering applying for a teaching assistant role within the Trust in the knowledge that they can progress to be a fully qualified teacher.”
Under the scheme, apprentices are assessed against a national framework called Teachers’ Standards. They spend around 70% of the year in school and 30% off-site training at Stockton Teacher Training Partnership.
Chris Jackson who is currently a higher level teaching assistant has been at Sunnyside Academy in Middlesbrough for 11 years. He said: “It’s a great scheme. It enables me to continue in my job and be paid whilst progressing my career. I can’t wait to get started.”
Melissa Wright is a former pupil at West View Primary School where she has been a teaching assistant for the past nine years. She said: “I’ve worked in Early Years for all of my career so the apprenticeship scheme will enable me to branch out and work with different year groups and get more experience.”
Maddy Wake was a community carer for 10 years but has spent the last 12 months as a teaching assistant at Middlesbrough’s Ayresome Primary School. She commented: “I have three children and a husband at home so taking a year out to train wasn’t an option for me. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher so this is a fantastic opportunity.”
Gemma Neil has spent the last four years at Ayresome Primary School – two years as a teaching assistant and two years as a cover supervisor. She said: “I’ve really enjoyed been a cover supervisor but the apprenticeship scheme provides career progression and enables me to focus on my own class of children.
To access the apprenticeship programme in primary schools, teaching assistants need to already hold an undergraduate degree as well as GCSEs in Maths, English and Science.
Ad Astra Academy Trust was formed in 2015 and over the last eight years has grown across the Tees Valley, providing education for over 3,500 pupils and 525 employees in Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees and Hartlepool.
The other primary schools within Ad Astra Academy Trust are Barnard Grove, Brougham and West Park in Hartlepool and Crooksbarn and Rosebrook in Stockton-on-Tees.
Andy Brown OBE, (left) CEO of Ad Astra Academy Trust with teaching apprentices and apprentices and Stockton Teacher Training Partnership staff.