Hungry Caterpillar Apprenticeship Scheme!


How does our scheme work?

Hungry Caterpillars Apprenticeship scheme has grown and developed significantly in the last 10 months. This is due to the current challenges recruiting qualified practitioners and our reviewed ‘Workforce Development Plan’. It has become clear that growing our own talent is the way forward to secure a stable future workforce and also allows us to put back into the early years industry.

We offer apprenticeships at level 2, 3 and 5 and support staff with completion of degree qualifications. Level 2 & 3 qualifications are offered to existing staff as well as new recruits who are aiming to develop. The new Level 5 qualification is offered to existing staff who are either currently working a leadership role or who aspire to work in leadership in the future.

There are several pathways that we currently offer our apprentices. This enables us to meet the needs of the learner and recognise’s that everyone learns differently, need different types of support to get them where they want to be in their career.

The first pathway is a blended learning route. We recruit the apprentice and they carry out their early years training with HAWK Training whilst employed full time. The ‘’earn whilst you learn’ route is very popular with school leavers, who have achieved a good level (3/4 grade) in Math’s and English GCSE and are keen to move away from a school environment. It also attracts older applicants who are either returning to work after a break or looking for a change of career. This route allows a direct route into work and training whilst building a career in early years. HAWK works closely with the nursery to ensure the success of the learner, allocating a tutor and providing monthly detailed feedback on each learner.

The second pathway is delivered in partnership with our local sixth form’s and colleges. We work with the college to recruit apprentice’s / or signpost applicants back to the college for training if the assessments show that is the best route for them. They are employed with Hungry Caterpillars and the college delivers the apprenticeship training on a day release basis and with the added support of face-to-face learning. This pathway gives additional support to the learners who may struggle with their Math’s and English as the college/school has the resources to offer the extra teaching and support needed for success.

The third pathway we offer is targeted at apprentice applicants who demonstrate their passion and commitment to working in early years but perhaps are not currently at the right level to complete a level 2 qualification with HAWK. In this instance we signpost the candidate back to the local college to complete their first level of early years training on a full time basis but offer them a placement opportunity within the nursery. Our aim is to work with the college and candidate during the first level of training with a view to employing them on a ‘earn whilst you learn’ apprenticeship once they have achieved their level 2 and got their key skills to the required level.

Our flexible approach enables us to offer different routes for different candidates. It has allowed us to build positive working relationships with our local colleges to support young learners keen to develop a career in early years.

Each new recruit goes through an extensive assessment process to ascertain the appropriate level for them and the right pathway to ensure they are successful. All of our apprentices are allocated a mentor who meets with them each week to see how they are doing and what, if any, support they might need. We also have a senior manager who oversees the apprentice program and supports managers and mentors in their roles.

What skills and understanding will you develop during your Apprenticeship with Hungry Caterpillars?

Regardless of the route an apprentice takes, during their training they will develop skills and knowledge, which will support them to build a career in early years.

However, our apprenticeship is not just about gaining a qualification in early years, there is so much more to it than that.The earn whilst you learn route, teaches young people how to be a successful colleague and employee. It teaches time keeping, reliability, teamwork, empathy for others, professionalism and so much more. Often young people join us lacking self-confidence and needing to develop their interpersonal communication skills. More recently, since COVID, we have supported a growing number of apprentices with mental health issues that have the potential to hold them back from being successful.

With consistent support, encouragement, praise and over time, we see fabulous examples of our apprentices flourish as their confidence builds.

In term of the early year’s element the level 2 apprenticeship aims to build knowledge, understanding, develop personal and professional skills and help learners to develop using their imagination and creativity. The level 3 apprenticeship builds on the skills and knowledge of child development and the skill of creating an enriching learning environment within the setting. The level 5 apprenticeship supports learners to become influential practitioners who will be able to skillfully lead day-to-day practice.They will also have the ability to support others to develop their practice, which is such an important skill for early year’s leaders. Overall our program offers a start in early years but also offers ongoing progression opportunities.

What benefits have the Apprenticeships brought and how do Apprentices benefit from training with Hungry Caterpillars?

We are proud of our apprenticeship scheme and the impact is has and is having on our nurseries and our learners. It has always been important to Olivia, the director, to offer apprenticeships to young people as a way to put back into the workforce and the industry that has been her lifelong career. However, the recent impact of Covid, Brexit and challenges recruiting and retaining staff has made our scheme our plan for ‘growing our own’ and the future early year’s workforce.

Homegrown apprentices have access to the Hungry Caterpillar way, throughout their training with the aim of developing practitioners who strive to achieve the very best outcomes for each child.

Our apprentice’s benefit from a supportive environment, an allocated mentor, tutor support, time out to complete work or gain ‘off the job experience’. They also have the opportunity to take on as much of the role of key person as they demonstrate they have the capacity to do. So for example, apprentices often have key children and are responsible for planning, observing and tracking progress. With support until confident, our apprentice’s also have direct contact with parents at pick up / drop off, and are encouraged to give feedback to parents on their child’s day. Apprentice’s work alongside the team as part of the team and are valued as equals by their peers. Being an apprentice at Hungry Caterpillars means, you also have access to a network of over 40 colleagues also going through the same or similar program and so support is always on hand.

Apprentices have access to our bank of over 100 online courses, five paid ‘non-contact’ development days per annum, a supportive induction / probation process and tangible career progression opportunities. For example:

  • A recent apprentice who completed her Level 3 with Hungry Caterpillars just 6 months ago is now in a Deputy Managers position.
  • One of our Nursery Managers started with us as an apprentice and has worked her way up the ranks
  • A recent apprentice who is now level 3 is doing a great job as a baby room leader.
  • A current apprentice is part of our outreach team and goes out to schools and colleges to promote a career in early years and apprenticeships at career’s days and open events.

These are just a few examples of the fantastic career progression opportunities offered at Hungry Caterpillars for our apprentice’s

What sets our Apprenticeship Scheme apart from others in the market?

Hungry Caterpillars Scheme is unique in that it offers a variety of learning pathways tailored to the needs of the apprentice. Our apprenticeship program has grown dramatically in the past 8 to 10 months due to our own assessment, challenges and workforce development planning. Our apprenticeship offer has grown from 10 to 15 on program to over 40 live apprenticeships in that time. This has been achieved through support from the London Progression Collaboration (a charity that’s supports businesses with all aspects of apprenticeships, levy transfer and provides social mobility for young people in West London) and securing over £150k in levy transfer funding. The process has been difficult and a times very slow but we have secured significant funding to support learning opportunities at all apprenticeship levels. We are members of the 5 % Club an organisation that supports and recognise businesses that achieve 5% or more of the workforce in earn and learn positions. We have currently gone through the benchmarking program with them and have achieved Gold Member Accreditation which we are extremely proud of. This has been achieved as we have over 30% of our workforce in earn and learn apprenticeships with plans to maintain that level moving forward.

A Hungry Caterpillars we are not just focused on the short term but on building long-term relationships with our training provider and colleges. This includes attending career events to giving talks or information about a career in early years, to opening our doors to placement students studying early years to gain real work experience.

What plans and on-going commitment do we have for the future of our Apprenticeship Scheme?

We aim to continue to have 40+ apprentices and aid learners to progress through the ranks at Hungry Caterpillars and in early years.

As a result of the work we have done in partnership with the LPC and West London College a round table event has been organised to discuss strategies and co-ordinate support for the early years sector and apprenticeships. Olivia, one of the directors has been invited to take part and share Hungry Caterpillars experience of securing funding, supporting apprentice’s, building relationships with colleges and schools and the challenge of recruitment and retention in the sector. A key focus will also be how to support smaller organisation’s with the levy transfer process and remove the financial barrier of providing apprenticeships to young people.

We have received the GOLD 5% Club Award!

On Thursday 3rd November, The 5% Club announced the award of Bronze, Silver and Gold Membership of members who participated in its accredited membership scheme, the Employer Audit.

We have received the Gold Standard which recognises those who have exceeded 5% of their workforce in “earn and learn” schemes – Apprenticeships, Graduate Schemes, and Sponsored Students. Hungry Caterpillars currently have 29% of their workforce in earn and learn schemes and we plan to keep growing this number to support training and development.

We are extremely thankful for this recognition. We believe it is so important to support learners of all ages to achieve their dream. We are extremely proud of all of our amazing learners here at Hungry Caterpillars. Thanks to our wonderful team for making this possible.

If you are interested in applying for an Apprenticeship with us, please click this link to find out some more information:

If you would like to apply click here: 

As an apprentice it was really important for me to have continued support from my team and the apprenticeship I was working with, luckily for me Hawk Training have nothing but supported me straight through my level 3 and also now that I am doing my level 5. All the support that i received from my tutor Aimee allowed me to receive a distinction grade in my level three which is still to this day one of my biggest achievements. I cannot thank my staff team as well for the support they constantly offered me throughout my time as a level 3 apprentice, anything that I needed help on they were able to supply me with great leadership and devotion to the topics I was learning about.

Here at the London Progression Collaboration (LPC), we are on a mission to support organisational challenges in accessing quality apprenticeship provision, which supports a better quality of life and progression for those most disadvantaged.

Olivia, the founder and director at Hungry Caterpillars, has a similar vision that aligns with the LPC’s mission. At Hungry Caterpillars, they believe that every child deserves a good quality pre-school education that enhances future life experiences.  This ethos continues across her organisation through the progression opportunities she creates and offers her outstanding employees.

Individuals can access progression opportunities within the organisation or broader sector.  New entrants begin their Early Years of career when new roles are created and apprenticeships offered.

At LPC, we have supported Hungry Caterpillars with their ambitious workforce development plans, which is focused on ‘growing their own talent’ and developing links with schools and colleges to support apprenticeships as a route into early years.  We assisted Olivia with application for £150k plus in levy transfer funding and have seen that money put into use quickly and effectively.

We are now working with Hungry Caterpillars on a project focusing on the workforce needs within early years and how the LPC can support that within the sector and through Apprenticeships.

I am currently doing my level 3 apprenticeship with Hawk training, they have been nothing but supportive of me throughout my time under their apprenticeship, I have meetings with my tutor to discuss my development and set targets and trackers for me to reach before the next meeting. I know my tutor is there to guide me and aid me in my work and she is always answering questions that I have over email and always giving me feedback the topics I am studying.