Frequently Asked Questions

Want to know more?

Below are some questions we often get asked, but if you can't find what you're looking for, please get in touch:

What is the application process?

If you're already working in a support staff role in a school/nursery, you should discuss your intention to apply with your line manager and then complete the application form for the programme you want to undertake. If you're looking for a new job, take a look at our Vacancies page under the 'Our Programmes' tab. If you are eligible, you will then take part in a professional discussion and a skills assessment with the programme lead to ensure the programme is appropriate for you. If you are successful, you and your employer will then agree your learning plan and complete the necessary enrolment paperwork before your Induction. 

Are there any entry requirements?

You must have an employment contract in place by your apprenticeship start date and have the right to work in the UK. You will not be eligible for this programme if you already hold a Level 3 or higher qualification in a similar subject area. Apprentices on all programmess will need to have achieved Level 2 in English and maths (equivalent to a pass in both at GCSE level) prior to completion of their apprenticeship. This is not a prerequisite, so study towards achieving Level 2 in English and maths (Functional Skills) can be completed at the same time as undertaking your programme of study and tuition is provided by United Learning. Study time for this is in addition to the Off the Job entitlement. An apprentice must not be enrolled in another publicly funded education/training programme at the same time as their apprenticeship e.g. degree funded via student loan.

How long do the apprenticeships last?

Apprentices will usually complete their study within 18 months of the start date alongside their current employment, based on working a minimum of 30 hrs/wk. There will be flexibility on apprenticeship duration depending on individual circumstances and working patterns, with part-time workers given longer to complete their apprenticeship to accommodate the 20% Off the Job entitlement.

When do programmes start?

We start new cohorts in spring and autumn of each academic year, with recruitment normally opening the term before. If you are eligible following your initial assessment, our team will inform you of your Induction dates.

How will learning take place?

For apprentices: You will complete your apprenticeship learning alongside your current job role, through a blended learning approach; a combination of live online training, occasional face to face training days (COVID-19 restrictions permitting) and self-directed study. The blended learning approach allows us to offer you a high-impact programme with greater flexibility to suit different circumstances and gives all apprentices the opportunity to engage directly with the programme lead and their peers.  

For employers: 

Any employee working over 30 hours a week for you must spend a minimum of 6.5 hours on their apprenticeship learning each week, to be scheduled in their working hours. This could, for example, be one day from home a week, in school/nursery or split across mornings and afternoons. The apprentice should arrange with their line manager/head of department when they intend to carry out this time and we can support with creating a plan that works for everyone. 

  • The apprentice should be given flexibility to self-guide their learning alongside partially arranged set working times for face-to-face and online work. To help you plan, we will let you know of any fixed teaching days before your apprentice starts their programme. We understand the working patterns of school-based apprentices, so all live sessions will take place during the school day when they will already be at work, and nothing is planned to be completed outside of school hours. 
  • Apprentices must evidence their hours of learning away from their day-to-day responsibilities for the duration of the practical period of their programme. Some of this will be at fixed times, during the school working day, for each programme. For example: during the Teaching Assistant programme all live sessions take place online from 9-11am on a Wednesday, approximately every six weeks. This would result in a minimum of three hours needing to be allocated between 8.30-9 – 11.30-12 every Wednesday, with the remaining 3.5 hours of Off the Job time arranged to suit the school. 
  • Please note: the apprentice's learning time must be done on a weekly basis during term time and cannot be saved up to complete in bulk. 
Will my usual working week be increased?

No – the beauty of an apprenticeship is that it is designed to be completed alongside your current job responsibilities, with an Off the Job dedicated learning entitlement included across the duration of the apprenticeship to enable you to learn whilst you earn.  

Apprentices must have evidence of learning away from their day-to-day responsibilities for at least 20% of the duration of their programme. This study can be spread out in a flexible way to suit you and your school, but it has to be done on a weekly basis (during term time) and cannot be saved up to do in bulk, unless in consultation with our team. United Learning Apprenticeships will work with your employer to agree how best to allocate the off-timetable study time in a way that suits you and the needs of the school.  

Please access the website for more information about the Off The Job entitlement.  

If you are already employed in a school support role and wish to apply for one of our programmes, please ensure you have discussed your intention to apply with your line manager first. 

What support is available for apprentices and employers?

For apprentices:

We understand that apprentices might be nervous about returning to training or study if you've had a long period of time away from it. All apprentices receive 1:1 tutorial support regularly from their Programme Lead, as well as the support of a workplace mentor. Apprentices are also allocated a buddy for the programme and have multiple opportunities to discuss and share their progress or concerns with their cohort. Our back office team is always at the end of the phone or email for any other queries.

Alongside the rest of our suite of support, our study skills module ensures you have the help and technical advice you need to get back into studying with confidence. Our supportive team are also available all the way through your programme to assist you should you need it. 

For employers:

We offer a fully planned apprenticeship curriculum so you have more time to focus on running your school. We know learning is more effective when it is done as part of a learning community – it helps to motivate and keep apprentices on track as they strive to achieve their goals. This is why we have put in place measures to make sure all our apprentices can access the central support they need throughout the programme. Apprentices will:

  • Be allocated a buddy on the programme;
  • Have regular 1:1s with their programme lead;
  • Be allocated a mentor who is an expert in their field;
  • Have access to an online forum for their cohort;
  • Have a dedicated mailbox to our provider management team;
  • Have regular opportunities to share their feedback on their programme;
  • Have reasonable adjustments in place if required.

As the employer you will:

  • Receive a dedicated mentor Induction to understand your role;
  • Receive regular briefings via email and webinars;
  • Attend regular review meetings with the programme lead and apprentice;
  • Have access to the apprentice’s online platform so you can monitor and review their learning;
  • Have a dedicated mailbox to our provider management team.

We know what school life is like, so we aim to be as flexible as possible and be there to support you and the apprentice if needed. We are always just an email or phone call away.

What funding is available?

For staff working in a United Learning school, the programmes are fully funded by United Learning’s contribution to the government’s apprenticeship levy, meaning they are completely free to apprentices and their schools.

For external levy paying employers, the programmes will also be funded through their levy contributions at no cost to the apprentice or school.

For external non levy paying employers, the employer is required to pay 5% towards the cost of training and assessment. The government will pay the remaining balance. We will agree a payment schedule and you will pay us directly and then claim back through the Apprenticeship Service. Employers will need to register for an Apprenticeship Service account here to manage apprenticeship funding. Employers will be required to pay for any travel expenses in line with their current expenses policy, but we endeavour to makes these as minimal as possible.

What training/assessment will be used?

Once all parties (the apprentice, employer and programme lead) agree that the apprentice is demonstrating the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to achieve occupational competence, the apprentice will go through ‘gateway’ to do the end point assessment. This is usually completed within 3 months of the end of the training period. End point assessment is carried out by an external organisation. We will work with you as the employer to agree an appropriate end point assessment organisation.

Teaching Assistant

End-Point assessment will include two components: a practical observation with Q&A that takes place at the apprentice’s usual workplace and a professional discussion based on a portfolio of evidence collated during the programme. Overall, apprentices will be able to earn either a pass or distinction grade, providing they earn at least a pass for each assessment.

Early Years Educator

To complete the final assessment for this programme, apprentices must already hold, or achieve as part of the course, a Level 3 Award in Paediatric First Aid (RQF) or a Level 3 Award in Emergency Paediatric First Aid and the Early Year Educator Level 3 Diploma. These will be covered during the apprenticeship. End-Point assessment will include two components: a multiplechoice knowledge test and a professional discussion based on the portfolio of evidence collated during the programme. Apprentices will be able to earn either a pass or distinction grade, providing they earn at least a pass for each assessment.

HR Support

End-Point assessment will include two components: a consultative project, where apprentices will have 10 weeks to complete a real project in the workplace relevant to their role, followed by a professional discussion. Apprentices will be able to earn either a pass or distinction grade, providing they earn at least a pass for each assessment.


United Learning comprises: United Learning Ltd (Registered in England No: 00018582. Charity No. 313999) UCST (Registered in England No: 2780748. Charity No. 1016538) and ULT (Registered in England No. 4439859. An Exempt Charity). Companies limited by guarantee.
Registered address: United Learning, Worldwide House, Thorpe Wood, Peterborough, PE3 6SB.

Financial Accountability and Freedom of Information
Website Terms, Cookies and Privacy