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Linda Hughes

Foundation of Light

Apprentices have been a huge asset to Foundation of Light since 2012, working on the business’s skills provision. They have programmes which aim to support families tackle a wide range of generational issues prevalent across the North East such as, health and wellbeing, obesity, budgeting and many more.

“The apprenticeship scheme is a great opportunity to bring people into the foundation and shape their skills. This also ensures we have a succession plan, as our staff can continue to support our business and deliver an excellent range of programmes. It’s a great way to bring in staff who complement the existing workforce as the apprentices give our business an added strength by bringing both new knowledge and skills which contributes positively to the team.

“The Foundation of Light deliver programmes which support young adults from age 16-19 gain industry experience and qualifications in sectors where there are specific skill shortages. We also deliver employability programmes for adults who are above the age of 19 to encourage quick progression into the labour market.

“The Learning and Skills Teacher apprenticeship has formed a core aspect of our success as the Foundation of Light could not have achieved this without excellent staff. There is a good culture within the skills team and the use of apprenticeships only enhances this. Our employability programmes have achieved 77% progression into employment, education or training and our apprenticeship provision has achieved 96% progression into employment.

“Our skills team are currently studying the level 5 Learning and Skills Teacher apprenticeship whilst delivering the employability programmes. Our staff in the Beacon of Light are also studying the Learning and Skills apprenticeship whilst supporting 60 children from age 14 to GCSE and working with partner schools to ensure children who are struggling in mainstream education can achieve their GCSEs.

“The apprenticeship gives us an opportunity to develop our staff and the local community. By undertaking an apprenticeship, our team’s position within the business is reinforced as they become extremely skilled members of staff who are able to contribute to the Foundation of Light’s future. The scheme is also great for succession planning as the programme has ensured we have staff who help our business to grow and expand our provision. This therefore contributes to our workplace culture, as the Foundation of Light main goal is to develop the skills and abilities of our local community.

"Recently, the education and skills sector has focused upon how education professionals and practitioners progress learners. This means more than gaining a qualification, progression also involves enhancing skills, behaviours and cultural capital. The Learning and Skills apprenticeship has allowed us to achieve this and develop our members of staff as our team learns on the job, builds these skills within the classroom, and then applies this knowledge to the Foundation of Light.

“We chose to work with the University of Sunderland as it was clear the University’s education provision had a good reputation. As a former University of Sunderland PGCE student, I knew the courses were great. Through our conversations with the programme lead, it was clear that there was flexibility surrounding the programme’s content and assessment. We were aware the course focuses heavily upon assessment methods and theories, but we also needed a programme where the learners would be able to understand the assessment from an awarding body. The programme lead understood our needs and it was great to have a dialogue with the University.

“Having employees and placement students’ study at the University of Sunderland helps our succession planning. We have excellent students who are representing the University of Sunderland across all our skills programmes. From this, there are employees within my team who I can identify to interview for future roles within the Foundation of Light. Our team is currently growing and expanding, there is also new funding for our education and skills provision as a result of COVID-19. As an organisation, we are therefore going to need highly skilled individuals within the Foundation of Light, and the apprenticeship is a great way to ensure our team’s continual development.

“From our experience with apprenticeships, we would absolutely recommend apprenticeships to other businesses! Apprenticeships really benefit businesses by providing an additional resource and contributing to your business’ succession planning.

“Our association to Sunderland FC can sometimes mean an added hurdle to overcome in our recruitment process. People can assume the Foundation of Light only focuses solely upon sports and football, but we deliver education, skills, health and wellbeing and community programmes. The Foundation of Light does not have any apprenticeships in sport. When apprentices apply for positions within our team, we must ensure they receive the correct information and guidance to make sure they are right for the role. We have an obligation as an education provider to direct them to another provider if the Foundation of Light is not right for them. We use the power of sport, but this is not solely our business. We harness the power of the SFC brand in the local community, but we are doing a lot to change perceptions.

“In regard to recruitment, having the ability to advertise an apprenticeship opens our business to new candidates, who would not necessarily apply for the position if we advertised roles where we expected staff to be fully qualified. As the Foundation of Light is seen as an organisation who is willing to develop and train our staff with practical experience alongside their role through an apprenticeship, this allows us to open our recruitment to a whole new realm of candidates.

“The Foundation of Light chose the Learning and Skills Teacher apprenticeship as we wish to excel in terms of our relationships with our partners. We felt our team could get a lot more from a level 5 apprenticeship than a level 4 and excel further. This gives individual members of staff such a broad opportunity. The Learning and Skills Teacher apprenticeship has a broad curriculum which could be applied and tailored to our provision at the Foundation of Light. The programme has given our staff a broader opportunity to apply their classroom knowledge alongside the theoretical aspects of the curriculum.”

Published 7 June 2021

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