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
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
Why choose CMS as your
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
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
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
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.