Based in Cheadle Hulme, the Seashell Trust is a charity dedicated to providing a creative, happy and secure environment for children and young people with complex and severe learning disabilities.

With the expertise of specialist teachers, care staff, onsite therapy team, assistive technologists, swimming teachers and sports coaches, children and young people aged from four to 25 learn how to express themselves, engage with the world around them, become more independent and live safe, creative and fulfilling lives.

The charity pays in to the Apprenticeship Levy and is working with the Growth Company who are providing apprenticeship training and advice on how to negotiate this new legislation.  

“I’m over the moon with the commitment from The Growth Company,” says Maria McGrath, Senior Learning and Development Business Partner at the Seashell Trust. “It feels like they are our second home.  The Growth Company are superb. They really couldn’t be any better. They are really committed to making this work and they are delivering modules for us on compliance, health and safety, safeguarding and manual handling."

“Apprentices are a huge part of what we do here. Our Teaching Assistants, Learning Support Assistants and Residential Support Workers are required to have the Level 3 Diploma in their relative field which is now taking them down the apprentice route. All new colleagues are signed up on the diploma within the first six months of employment with the Trust. "

But Maria is the first to admit that the new apprenticeship arrangements have challenges for employers.

She says: “Our apprentices sometimes fear that functional skills element of it – English and Maths. For some this is a big barrier for them. The new element of 20 % off the job training is also quite a challenge. It is something the government needs to look at but we have worked with the Growth Company to put in a plan for that 20% and they have it a lot easier for us. They are very structured and committed.”

The charity has now taken on three cohorts of management apprentices and they are delighted with their new business administration apprentice who has progressed to a level 4 apprenticeship in Project Management.

Adds Maria: “I would say to other employers considering apprentices that they need to look at it – now!  It’s time we took the blinkers off with apprenticeships. It’s not just a box ticking exercise. This is real learning and there are huge opportunities for your company. I’ve got the best job in the world!”