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BUILD THE FUTURE - Degree Apprentice Teaching Graduate Scoops Award

12/02/2021

Christopher Thompson, who graduated from his Teaching Degree Apprenticeship in January this year, has scooped an Apprentice of the Year Award in Shropshire Council's Virtual Apprenticeship Awards 2021.

"Chris was awarded an ‘Outstanding’ grade at his end point assessment. Always taking on board feedback to improve his teaching. We are incredibly lucky to have Chris as a member of our team. I can’t think of a newly qualified teacher who has made such an impact in teaching at such an early stage in their career."  

Christopher was one of the first Apprentice Primary School Teachers in Shropshire, studying for his Degree at the University of Wolverhampton's Walsall Campus one day a week, with his Apprenticeship studies funded by his employer, Shropshire Council, through the Apprenticeship Levy.

Chris said: "Winning the Apprentice of the Year award was without doubt a real shock but a huge honour. Having reflected on it for a few days I have reached the conclusion that it is not a one-person achievement as, without the support, skill and nurture of my colleagues, it would never have happened. I feel very lucky that in these strange times that we all find ourselves in, not only am I in a job that I had always dreamed of doing (and I still find it strange seeing the word 'Teacher' on my lanyard!), but that I work for a school community that I am incredibly privileged to be a part of. I owe a huge thank you to every single member of staff - particularly headteacher Angela Alkureishi and our the governing body for their 'go for it' approach to upskilling staff - at Norton-in-Hales CE Primary school for helping and supporting me throughout the duration of the course. I firmly believe that this is an award for all of them and their dedication to the apprenticeship approach.

"I'd always wanted to teach from a young age but felt that, at 35, the chance to do so had passed me by and I was happy and content in my role at Norton-in-Hales, working as a Teaching Assistant in the morning and delivering PE across the school in the afternoons. When senior leaders at the school first mentioned the Apprenticeship route into teaching however, I jumped at the chance to try and achieve a life long dream. I wasn't in a position to leave the school to return to University and also didn't wish to leave the school community so the Apprenticeship route seemed an excellent course to take. Further to this, I much prefer to learn by doing, so by being assigned to our Year 3 and 4 class I was able to follow this learning style; learning from mistakes I made and being given plenty of opportunity to reflect and revise on my approach. This is where I feel my mentors were key in my development. They were available daily, even with the pressures of their own classes to run and I feel I benefited hugely from team teaching with them one day a week as well.

"I also spent four weeks across the academic year at the University of Wolverhampton at its Walsall Campus. These weeks were vital too as it was a chance to gain exposure to more experts in each individual subject, as well as meeting fellow professionals at the same point in their careers. Although I was in a cohort of just four, this bond - along with our mentor Karen Amos - was one of the highlights of the Apprenticeship; we shared experiences, successes, failures and advice that got us all through the course... and our WhatsApp group still buzzes now!" 

Angela Alkureishi, Headteacher at Norton in Hales CE Primary School in Shropshire, said: "Chris completed his apprenticeship in January 2020 and was one of the first apprentice teachers in Shropshire.

"Having worked at Norton in Hales as a Teaching Assistant it was clear as soon as I started as Head Teacher that Chris has a special gift to connect with children. Chris had previously embarked on his teacher training but after a few challenging incidents decided to leave the teacher training programme at that point in time.

"Thankfully Chris decided to try again and embarked on the Postgraduate Teaching Assistant route. The University of Wolverhampton was one of only a handful of universities offering the course. Chris was selected by the University to represent the primary division as he was a strong trainee that had made great progress and a very positive contribution to children’s learning and development and the wider life of the school in general. Together with his own commitment and conscientiousness he has benefited greatly from having the right support from our school and a senior leadership team who have collectively spotted the potential in Chris and agreed to put him through this route whilst adhering to the partnership contract.

Chris has also championed the apprentice route into teaching and was also approached by the Local Authority to talk to other potential candidates even though he was juggling a demanding workload as well as becoming a parent with a newborn son.

"Chris was awarded an ‘Outstanding’ grade at his end point assessment. Always taking on board feedback to improve his teaching. We are incredibly lucky to have Chris as a member of our team. I can’t think of a newly qualified teacher who has made such an impact in teaching at such an early stage in their career." 

Find out more about how Degree Apprenticeships can benefit you or your business: www.wlv.ac.uk/naw2021

For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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