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Case Study: Abbey Multi Academy Trust

CMS Vocational Training Hadyn Luke posted this on Friday 22nd of February 2019 Hadyn Luke 22/02/2019


Case Study: Abbey Multi Academy Trust

Abbey Multi Academy Trust is a group of eight academy schools in West Yorkshire, built on a singular vision: To work in partnership to educate, nurture and empower.

CMS has worked closely with the organisation since 2014 and has delivered more than 13 apprenticeships, both for the corporate services side of the Trust and four of the schools:

·         Manston St James Primary 

·         Abbey Grange Academy 

·         Bishop Young Academy 

·         Lightcliffe Primary

The apprenticeships have covered everything from Business Admin, HR and IT to Gym Instruction and Activity Leadership. Apprentices have ranged in age between 17 and 23, with some progressing on to further programmes at the Academy, through CMS.

Here, we talk to Liz Hayden, the Trust’s Head of HR for the past two years, who has a background working in education and human resources. 

Why choose CMS as your apprenticeship provider?

I started in my role Head of HR around the time The Apprenticeship Levy was kicking in.

We wanted a one-stop shop apprenticeship provider rather than having to go to lots of different companies. We had used CMS in the past and they are based in the same area. We had a meeting with Mandy [Mandy Hodson, Employer/ Learner Engagement at CMS] and felt that CMS would be a good fit for us.

How did things develop?

We started with a Business Admin apprentice and this spanned into IT, HR and other apprenticeships. Some of the apprentices work in our schools and some in the corporate services side of the Trust, which is based separate building next door to our Bishop Young Academy.

How have you found the experience of working with CMS?

It has been very positive. We get on well with Mandy and have developed a good working relationship with her; she understands us and what we do.

As we’ve had several apprentices in the same roles, we have agreed standard wording for the advertisements, and Mandy has known us long enough to know what sort of people we are looking for.

What qualities does an apprentice need to demonstrate?

The ideal apprentice is somebody who is keen to learn and develop, who can work within our values and take education seriously. If they are the right fit, we try to map out a career progression for them; we are keen to keep hold of people who train with us and help them on their career path.

One of our apprentices who is following a Business Admin apprenticeship has said she is keen to get into HR and we have been able to offer the opportunity for her to finish her apprenticeship and go straight into Level 3 HR. Training with us helped her recognise what she wanted out of her career.

How important are your values?

Abbey Multi Academy Trust is a Christian Trust centred on particular values. There is a strong emphasis on wellbeing and education but also on Christianity. All of our academies bar one are Church of England and we follow the ethos of “educate, nurture empower”.

Do you offer apprenticeships to existing staff?

Our apprentices are a mix of new people and current staff and we usually have around seven or eight apprentices training at any one time. We have recruited specific new staff but have also upskilled existing staff.

Who supports your apprentices?

As well as CMS staff, the Head of IT gets heavily involved with recruiting the IT apprentices and making sure they complete their course and training, whereas with Business Admin it would be the principal and office manager of the relevant Academy. We have a couple of people following HR apprenticeships at the moment too.

How important are apprenticeships to your organisation?

Very important. We certainly don’t treat apprenticeships like a form of tax relief, as some organisations have been reported as doing in the media. We pay the Apprenticeship Levy, so we want to see a return on investment on that and to upskill our staff.

What are the benefits of working with CMS for your apprenticeship provision?

First, we have a good working relationship with the company. They know that we’re looking for people who are keen to learn, develop and progress their careers.

Second, they don’t give up. We had one particular position we were struggling to recruit for and Mandy persisted until she found the right person for us. That person later progressed into a role with our finance team.

Do you have plans to continue with more apprenticeships?

Yes, we have had some real success stories in IT and Business Admin in particular, and plan to continue to work with CMS moving forward.

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