What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are a great way for schools to retain and attract new staff or upskill existing staff of all ages and levels of experience, in a wide variety of roles. Apprenticeships combine work with practical, on- and off-the-job training and study.


Apprenticeships offer school business professionals (SBPs) the opportunity to combine practical training and study. They are for both:

  • New entrants to the school business profession
  • Existing practitioners who want to continue their career development


Anyone can become an apprentice at any age and benefit from government funding to support their professional development.

There are apprenticeships at all different levels, from new entrant through to master’s degree level.

You can use apprenticeships to provide training that is tailored to the needs and requirements of your school.


Apprenticeships for school business professionals?

There are many different apprenticeships available at a range of levels. The main apprenticeship programmes suitable for school business professionals are outlined below:


We have supported the development of a suite of apprenticeship programmes and were part of the Trailblazer group for the Level 4 School Business Professional Apprenticeship and have supported HEIs in developing contextualised Level 6 Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) programmes. We work closely with many of the training providers who offer the apprenticeships.


If you are currently on an apprenticeship programme, we would encourage you to become a member of ISBL. You can access the student rate if you are studying at level 4 or below and enjoy the benefits that membership provides, assisting you with sector insights whilst studying. Find out more here.


Accessing the apprenticeship levy

Most schools pay into the apprenticeship levy and can access the levy to pay for training and development.

If the employer of the staff in your school is a local authority, a governing body that controls more than one school, or a multi-academy trust (MAT) with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million, you may contribute to the levy through them.

Schools that do not pay the levy can still take on apprentices and access co-investment so that they have to pay only 5% of the training and assessment costs.

The apprenticeship levy can only be used to fund apprenticeships that have been approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE). Further information on what the levy is and how to pay it is available here: ‘Apprenticeship funding: how it works’.


Identifying the right apprenticeship

It is important to discuss with your line manager/employer what apprenticeship is the right one for you and fits with your development objectives. They will be able to offer you support and advise you how your school is using its apprenticeship levy. Through this discussion, you can also seek assurance and plan how the 20% off-the-job development will be supported as part of the apprenticeship programme.


Apprenticeship providers

Delivery of the apprenticeships may vary from provider to provider as there is no prescribed way of delivering each apprenticeship standard. The end-point assessment for each apprenticeship is set and quality-assured by the IfATE.

Employers should look at the providers offering the apprenticeship they want and decide which programme of study best suits their employee and their organisation.

You can find a list of training providers offering apprenticeships for school business professionals here.

A full list of apprenticeship standards and providers can also be found on the IfATE website.


Using apprenticeships to develop your team or succession plan

Schools should consider apprenticeships as part of strategic workforce planning and to develop talent that is already within the school. They can help promote a diverse and inclusive workforce and support recruitment and retention more widely. Consider using the DfE guidance ‘A guide to apprenticeships for the school workforce’.


You can find out more on the individual web pages for each apprenticeship.