It has been reported that the apprenticeship levy will harm small council schools - but the levy will also apply to other schools.

For those of you who missed the news - the key point is that from April 2017, the way apprenticeships are funded will change, with employers having to pay the apprenticeship levy.

So will your school have to pay the levy?

In practice only employers with a gross annual pay bill of more than £3 million will pay the levy. Small council schools will be caught as is reported below. Larger MATs and some independent schools will not escape either.

Remember too that schools who are not initially caught could be at a later point - for example, if further academies joined a MAT or independent schools merged.  

If any corporate activity is on the horizon, schools should put in place strategies to identify whether the levy must be paid and when.

If the levy applies to my school what do I have to do?

There is an obligation on employers to 1. inform HMRC whether it needs to pay the levy; and 2. to make payment to HMRC each month. 

What is the digital apprenticeship service?

The digital apprenticeship service is aimed to help all employers (regardless of whether they pay the levy) to identify and develop training programmes and recruit apprentices.

The rate of co-investment for apprenticeship training is 90% from the government and 10% from the employer.  There will be more funding available, which may present an opportunity for schools.

What should we do now?

Identify whether your school will have to pay the levy before it comes into effect in April 2017.

Also consider whether there are opportunities for using apprentices. There may be opportunities on the support side - such as teaching assistants, catering or reception. As levy funds cannot be used to pay for apprenticeship training where the arrangements are in place before April 2017,  it may be prudent to wait until April 2017.

If we take on apprentices what do me need to do?

Schools must put in place an apprenticeship agreement which complies with the statutory requirements. This is necessary for you to access the apprenticeship funds. A decent agreement will also clearly set out the details of the arrangement which in turn will help minimise any disputes.