@PlymouthCAST are a multi academy trust who secured more than £100k in #apprenticeship levy transfer funding to support their workforce development. 

Upskilling staff with apprenticeships

Zoe Batten, CEO, and Diana Taylor, Staff Development and Safeguarding Officer, use the apprenticeship levy across their schools to offer a continuous professional development strategy.

Zoe and Diana developed a professional development map, identifying the apprenticeship opportunities staff can access at different points in their career.

Diana saw an opportunity to upskill support staff using apprenticeships as they make up a large proportion of Plymouth CAST’s staff.

During the early stages, they used the apprenticeship levy to support staff through the Teaching Assistant apprenticeship and the Early Years Educator apprenticeship.

They also upskilled business support staff through the Business Administration apprenticeship and Finance and School Business Professional apprenticeship.

Plymouth CAST then started to offer higher level apprenticeships for their staff.

Through this, staff have gained the equivalent of a diploma in education by completing the Level 5 Learning and Skills Teacher apprenticeship. This allows them to progress to train as teachers.

Plymouth CAST also offer staff with an honours degree the opportunity to gain qualified teacher status by completing the Level 6 Teacher apprenticeship.

Through their focus on support staff, Plymouth CAST have successfully supported two support staff to become qualified teachers.

Plymouth CAST have demonstrated that apprenticeships are not just for young people but can be used for ongoing professional development.

Getting funding for apprenticeships

As well as the apprenticeship levy, Plymouth CAST have used the Department for Education bursary funding to fund their continuous professional development plan.

Plymouth CAST have also organised a levy transfer with BD, one of the largest global medical technology companies in the world.

BD will be transferring some of their levy to Plymouth CAST to fund peer coaching apprenticeship training for teachers across the trust.

The transfer enables BD to align to their Corporate Social Responsibility strategy, while allowing Plymouth CAST to upskill more staff.

Supporting schools to deliver apprenticeships

Zoe and Diana recognise that the selection process for a training provider is different for every school. Plymouth CAST choose a provider based on identified success criteria for each school.

Plymouth CAST encourage each school to look at their capacity, what opportunities they need and the training providers that offer them.

Zoe and Diana make sure that off-the-job training happens in a clear and robust way.

It can be hard to release teachers for one day per week, so staff have found creative ways to implement their 20% off-the-job training into their working week.

This includes staff meetings, professional conversations with a colleague, and any other activities not directly linked to their everyday work duties.

Benefits of apprenticeships

Many Plymouth CAST team members have worked in education for several years without much continuous professional development.

Zoe has found that, by offering apprenticeships, Plymouth CAST are developing leaders for the future, investing in people and supporting them throughout their career.

Zoe says, ‘We now have a clear strategy with a sustainable legacy.’

Zoe has also found apprenticeships have made upskilling much easier to accommodate, as staff are able to complete training within the workplace.

Diana commented that, ‘The benefit is that, not only are we equipping our teams with the skills, experience and learning to make them more effective, but we are also demonstrating that we value them.’

Advice for other schools

Diana recognises that schools often feel they have little access to funds for continuous professional development.

However, she has shown the key is to start with what you have. Diana believes the apprenticeship levy is a valuable resource that schools need to make full use of.

She encourages schools to realise the benefit apprenticeships can bring to individuals as well as schools. This could be by investing in current staff or exploring how you can use the apprenticeship levy when taking on new members of staff.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page