Award-winning school issues rallying cry over apprenticeships

An award-winning primary school is so thrilled with the success of its apprenticeship scheme that it is now calling on other schools and businesses to follow in its footsteps.

Hughenden Primary School in Spring Valley Drive, Hughenden Valley, has employed eight apprentices over the last three years in a scheme set up with Buckinghamshire Adult Learning.

And the project led to the school winning the Apprenticeship Employer of the Year Award for 2015 in this May’s Buckinghamshire Business Awards.

Headteacher Sarah Leighton said the apprentices, who have supported teaching and administration staff, have helped her team enormously and made the school much stronger.

“They haven’t replaced existing staff – instead they have supplemented them – allowing our full time teachers to have additional adult support in the classrooms, and giving our admin team much-needed assistance,” she said.

“It’s made a difference to the apprentices by helping their careers, but it’s also made a huge difference to our school. It’s extra eyes and ears and security that boosts the confidence of children and allows us to give extra time for pastoral care.”

The apprentices, aged 16 to 20, allow most of the classes to have extra support in the room, and this was one of the themes talked about when Zahir Mohammed, Buckinghamshire County Council Cabinet Member for Education and Skills,visited the school recently.

He said “I was hugely impressed by the way apprenticeships are embraced by Hughenden Primary School. The scheme is fantastic for the apprentices because it gives them a really good career start. During my visit to the school I saw that it had been really rewarding for pupils and staff, and particularly useful for pupils in developing transferable skills.”

Mrs Leighton added: “I would encourage other schools to follow us with this. There are government grants available up to £2500 per learner which can be used to offset salaries.”

For more information on apprenticeships, contact Buckinghamshire Adult Learning on email, phone 01296 383470 or visit