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Apprentices applauded at Ebor’s first graduation ceremony

The hard work of apprentices who have successfully completed their courses in the education sector has been celebrated at the first graduation ceremony of its kind in York.

Ebor Academy Trust, which operates 23 schools across York, Selby, Hull, the East Riding and on the Yorkshire Coast, presented certificates to apprentices at their business centre in Osbaldwick.

Ebor’s apprenticeship scheme – held up as an example of best practice by a government minister when it was launched in 2019 – hosts accredited online courses for teaching assistants, early years educators and school business administrators. As a “main provider”, with a “good” rating from Ofsted, apprenticeship courses are offered across all local authority schools as well as other academies and multi-academy trusts.

The graduation ceremony was also a celebration event, attended by apprentices as well as headteachers and school-based mentors. Gail Brown, chief executive of Ebor Academy Trust, gave an opening address, saying the celebrations were well-deserved.

In her speech, Ebor’s director of apprenticeships, Sue Hinchcliffe, said that the first cohort of teaching assistant apprentices stepped forward for the course to understand better what they did in their role, why and how it could be done more effectively.

The pandemic presented unexpected additional challenges but over half – 52 per cent – achieved a distinction for their hard work.

“This event was to recognise great determination and resilience. As well as what apprentices did in school, they continued to work on their professional development, to learn, to improve their knowledge and skills and achieve accreditation and qualification,” said Sue.

“This is amazing, not least because this also demonstrates a real commitment to improving what they do, for the benefit of schools but primarily the pupils they serve. Well done!”

The achievements of Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTAs) were also celebrated. HLTAs often provide cover for whole classes in the absence of a teacher, sometimes planned and sometimes at short notice.

Employers and headteachers were thanked for playing a key role in the apprenticeship scheme, helping to better equip their staff with knowledge and skills to do their job well.

“When we invest in training for support staff in schools, it has proved to be one of the most transformative things we can do. When teachers and skilled support staff work closely together, provision for pupils improves, outcomes improve and life chances are increased,” added Sue.

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