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Sunningdale School supports Sunderland apprentice

A STUDENT who became the first Support Teaching and Learning apprentice in the city is on track for a promising career in the education sector.

In September 2013, Charlotte Twinn, 16, started her apprenticeship at Sunningdale School for children with profound, multiple and severe learning needs after beating off stiff competition from 50 other candidates and is set to become a classroom assistant at the end of her apprenticeship next year.

The impetus behind the apprenticeship came about after Sunningdale School head teacher, Celia Wright, decided the time was right for the school to organically train a member of staff by taking on a Support Teaching and Learning Apprentice, as part of the government Apprenticeship Scheme.

She said: “I had heard about the Apprenticeship Scheme and wanted to support a local young person into work.  As an educational establishment, we were looking for someone with the ability to be able to develop their knowledge and skills base and become a future member of school staff.”

Ms Wright linked up with Sunderland College in search of an apprentice and together they developed a profile to attract the right candidate and compiled a short list of potential candidates through a series of assessments and interviews.

Support Teaching and Learning apprentices work with teachers to assist in lesson preparation, and work with small groups of children as part of the class team in support of the class teacher. Some learning support staff specialise in areas such as music or special needs and Charlotte’s apprenticeship has proved so successful that Sunningdale School has decided to take on a second apprentice through Sunderland College in September.

Charlotte, who has been studying a NCFE’S Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools at Sunderland College’s Washington campus for the past year, said: “The apprenticeship has given me first-hand experience of learning the role in the workplace and it’s been a great opportunity for me.  I’ve been made to feel so welcome within my class team, they’ve been so supportive throughout my apprenticeship and I’m really grateful to Sunderland College and Sunningdale School.”

Sunderland College has a been delivering courses in Supporting Teaching and Learning for over 10 years but only started offering apprenticeships in the subject last year.

Peter Robertson, employer relationship manager at Sunderland College, has commended Sunningdale School for becoming the first school in the region to acknowledge the Support Teacher and Learning apprenticeship.

He said: “Sunningdale was the first school in Sunderland to take on a Support Teaching and Learning apprentice and I’m delighted that they decided to do so via Sunderland College.  Apprenticeships are a great way for young people to begin a career in teaching and we’re hopeful that more schools in the region will follow Sunningdale’s example by offering placements.

“The most impressive aspect of this is how Charlotte has progressed during her apprenticeship – it’s a great example for other young people hoping to work in schools and it’s fantastic to be able to work with schools such as Sunningdale to together help our apprenticeships flourish.”

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