NATIONAL APPRENTICESHIP WEEK 2022: Apprenticeship provides beacon of opportunity for Sunderland mum

Guiding the career prospects of young people inspired Kim Newby to take a close look at her own future and set the wheels in motion for change.

Heading straight into work after college, Kim always thought a university education was out of reach. From an engineering career at Nissan, to working as a healthcare assistant in the NHS, it wasn’t until she finally landed a job with the Beacon of Light School in Sunderland in student support, that her outlook on education began to change.

Kim worked her way up in the school – an alternative provision free school for pupils aged 13 and 16 – to the role of Careers and POST 16 Support, and was encouraged by fellow team members to consider applying for a Higher Apprenticeship to develop her teaching skills.

Apprentices are employees who spend most of their time in the workplace, supported by dedicated study time. Learning while working, then applying that learning back into the workplace.

Despite her early reservations about how she would manage the academic side of the Higher Learning and Skills Teacher Apprenticeship (Level 5), in partnership with the University of Sunderland, her nerves were quickly settled with the support she received.

“I never had any teaching background, I was very much learning on the job,” explained Kim, 33, from Sunderland. “However, after seeing so much good practice within the Beacon I knew I wanted to develop my role further and go down the academic route of teaching. I wanted to make sure I was up to standard for the students’ benefit.”

More than halfway into the apprenticeship and Kim is hitting milestones she never thought possible – writing policies for the Beacon of Light School, involved in CPD for staff and trustees, developing a three-year curriculum plan, alongside submitting Stage 1&2 for the Quality in Careers Standard Award.

All this week the University of Sunderland is celebrating our apprentices, partners and staff, as part of National Apprenticeship Week 2022.

Kim says juggling work and family life, with a daughter at home has been hard work and has challenged her but adds: “You have just got to invest your time in it, but you reap so many rewards from this. Everyone of the sessions is relevant to what you’re doing. What l learn on the day I can put into practice the next day.

“I was never very confident in myself, especially standing at the front of a classroom, but my confidence has grown, due to the fact that my knowledge has developed, and I have such a better understanding of how to teach, and being able to articulate that knowledge to a range of learners is inspiring.”

She added: “Being able to earn an income while I study towards a Higher Apprenticeship has made such a difference, and something financially I never thought possible.”

The University is currently working with more than 100 employers across the region, delivering successful higher and degree apprenticeship programmes. One of those employers is the Beacon of Light School.

Steph Forster, Teaching and Learning and ITT Lead, at the Beacon, said: “Whilst on the higher apprenticeship I have seen Kim’s confidence in teaching grow, the course is equipping her with the skills and knowledge needed to continue a successful teaching career.

“Kim is proactive and brings new ideas to the school, building on the topics covered in her university sessions.”

Andrea Brown, Senior Lecturer (PCET) at the University of Sunderland, said: “The Learning and Skills Teacher Apprenticeship offers another route to get into teaching for work-based learners, giving them access to Higher Education that may not have been an option previously.

“This apprenticeship really has made such a difference to so many of our apprentices, whether that is taking on new responsibilities at work or becoming more effective in their teaching roles.  Importantly, we encourage our apprentices to share any new skills, knowledge and behaviours with their colleagues back in the workplace, so that everyone can share in the success of the apprenticeship.

“I continue to be impressed by the level of enthusiasm and commitment of all our apprentice Learning and Skills Teachers and I know from regularly speaking to workplace mentors that this is echoed by employers, who are seeing a positive return on their investment in the apprentice – it is a win-win for all!”

The University of Sunderland launched its Degree Apprenticeship programme in 2017 and has established a proven record among a range of clientele.

Starting with just a handful of employers, the University scheme has grown year on year, now partnering with more than 100 organisations.  This last academic year the University has enrolled more than 340 apprentices in 15 degree-level apprenticeship programmes, across a range of sectors and job roles.

Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University, said: “Providing high-quality apprenticeships is a vital part of our role as an anchor institution in the north east of England. We are delighted that our programmes have grown across the region and nationally, and we continue to work in partnership with so many different employers to provide them with the skilled people they need to thrive in the future.

“For the individuals involved, an apprenticeship is a terrific way to enhance their career prospects and job opportunities.”

This is the 15th annual National Apprenticeship Week, a week-long celebration that takes place across England, showcasing the impact apprenticeships can have on communities, local businesses and regional economies and how they all benefit from the impact of apprenticeships.

To find out more about Higher and Degree Apprenticeship at the University of Sunderland click here.

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