Break the trend: Meet our apprenticeship champion Courtney Smith

“Last year I Sat My GCSES, this Year I’m…”

“Working at The Cabin at Barn Park Nursery as an Apprentice. I’m the eldest of seven children, so I have a bit of Child Care experience! When it came to school and GCSEs I found the exam process really stressful but I still signed up for 6th form as I wasn’t really sure what else to do. My mum and I had a chat about what I would get out of A Levels and we both agreed it would be more exams and stress without much experience. I already knew that I would like to work with children and eventually specialise in SEN.

My Aunt had told me about Skills Group, so we googled for a course in Child Care and soon after I started my programme at Skills Group. Since then I have achieved my Level 2 Certificate in Progression, a Safeguarding Unit, the Level 2 CACHE Award in Child Development and Care and Level 3 Paediatric First Aid as well as securing my apprenticeship placement which I started in February. I really love the independence I now have. Almost a year on since finishing school, I am earning my own salary, saving for driving lessons – all whilst doing a job that I love.”

Courtney was awarded an accolade for completing the most additional online training set by her employer throughout May, this was out of 3 nurseries. Well done Courtney, you are a fantastic apprenticeship ambassador.

I always struggled in school as I wasn’t very academic, so knew learning on the job would be a better option for me. I would find it difficult to get up for 9am but now I wake up and look forward to my day. I wanted to try a hair apprenticeship as I’ve always been interested in hairdressing, and by the end of the first week, I already loved it!

Jaimee Benson, Level 2 Hairdressing

I have developed a range of new skills through work including the technical, industry skills required for the job, to personal development such as ensuring I am always on time. The biggest change since leaving school is adjusting to the independence you gain from earning a salary. My advice to anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship would be find what you like doing, and go for it!

Will Birch, Level 2 Bricklaying

Since starting the apprenticeship, I’ve become far more confident. In a classroom, you only interact with your classmates, but through working you develop your people skills as you interact with customers on a daily basis. At school, you are closely monitored and parented, however I am now more independent and feel grown up

Sam Collard, Level 2 Light Vehicle and Maintenance Repair

The most important thing I’ve learnt since leaving school is that there are other routes to success than just academia. I failed my GCSEs, as I never suited the school environment. Now though, I’m really enjoying my apprenticeship as I’ve discovered I learn more through hands-on practice.

Ben Freeman, Level 2 Carpentry

I would just like to thank you and your team for all the amazing work they do, you have provided me with the most invaluable experience which has helped to pave the way of my future. The work you do for young people is incredible!

Luke Kowalski, Teaching Assistant and former apprentice at Sir Robert Gefferys School