A Day In The Life- Historic England

Posted: 16th of May 2019 by

Considering applying for our Historic Environment Advice Assistant Apprenticeship at Historic England, but not clear on what will be involved?

To help you, we've spoken to our teams and put together a guide for you.  We want to provide you with the training and support of our skilled colleagues to put you at the centre of our work, to enable you to help protect and provide advice on heritage for the public now, and in the future. You will be a valuable team member in our Regions group, based at one of our offices in Bristol, London, Cambridge, Birmingham, Manchester, York or Newcastle.

If you are someone who enjoys variety in your work you'll be pleased to know that you’ll be spending your time working with and supporting lots of different teams, there really is no such thing as a typical day.

•Samuel says:  ‘What’s amazing is dealing with proposals to such a diverse range of buildings and the people who use them. A recent week took me to the depths of Cold War underground bunkers with Ministry of Defence personnel, to an Arts and Crafts country house in splendid isolation amidst the rolling hills of the Vale of Gloucester, to the Victorian industrial heartland of Gloucester’s dock-side warehouses, and finally to the English Heritage-owned medieval tithe barn in Bradford-in-Avon. How’s that for variety!’

During your time with us with us you’ll get the chance to:

•Support our Partnerships Team in their work protecting Heritage at Risk. This is a meaningful part of your role and your apprenticeship, as you'll learn how grant funding can help to save historic sites for future generations to enjoy, and how projects are monitored and supported. You’ll get the opportunity to don a hard hat and high vis jacket to shadow our Architects as they check on the progress of urgent building repairs, picking up lots of technical knowledge along the way. You will join our Heritage at Risk Project Officers as they advise landowners about protecting buried archaeology from risks including ploughing, brambles and even badgers!

•Working alongside our Development Advice Team, we will help you develop the knowledge required to help provide advice to local authorities about how planning applications might affect nearby heritage assets. You’ll learn to analyse application documents including maps, plans and written reports, and you’ll join Inspectors as they visit the application sites, often meeting with site owners and local authority staff as they discuss proposals in person. Back in the office you’ll help pull together case studies to look at the impact of our guidance, and you’ll learn how to carefully craft written advice about how planning applications could be improved to provide better heritage outcomes.

•Simon says: ‘Being an Inspector of Historic Buildings at Historic England gives me privileged access into some of the country’s most historic buildings and areas. We work in regional teams, and over the course of time you build up a huge personal knowledge of your area, its history and traditions. I get deep personal satisfaction from the ability to positively influence change to the outstanding heritage of the area that I live and work in, for wider public benefit.’


•Assisting our Listing Team, assessing whether different types of heritage should be given legal protection is an important learning which you will benefit from during your apprenticeship with us. You’ll enjoy having the time to conduct further research to assist you with assessments, and from there have the unique opportunity to shadow Listing Advisers when they conduct site visits to assess and examine the buildings and sites in more detail. You'll capture and use public feedback, and will develop your writing skills to contribute to evidenced  recommendation reports, learning how to follow the right approvals process.

•Working with our Business Support Team, you will spend some of your time involved in the work Historic England do to champion the National Heritage List for England. The list is the only official, up to date, register of all nationally protected historic buildings and sites in England, including listed buildings, scheduled monuments, protected wrecks, registered parks and gardens and battlefields and is at the heart of the work we do at Historic England. You will assist in processing requests to add new records to the register, and will also log other applications for things like planning permission and scheduled monument consent. You’ll learn how information is recorded and will complete research using a range of sources including the Historic England Archive, aerial photographs and historic maps. Here you'll get a chance to further develop your customer service skills by responding to emails and taking phone call enquires from members of the public.

•Our Business Support team says: ‘In the Business Support team we get to have an overview of what happens across the whole region. It’s exciting to understand the range of the different types of heritage, and how Historic England works to protect them.’

The Historic Environment Advisor Assistant Apprenticeship is a unique opportunity to develop a wide ranging knowledge of skills that will enable you to help protect England's historical landscape. We are passionate about our commitment to the historic environment and we want to work with you to support you in your apprentice journey with us. Driven by the hard work of over 70 employers, training providers and professional bodies from across the heritage sector, The Historic Environment Trailblazer, chaired by Historic England, has led on the development of the Historic Environment Adviser Assistant Apprenticeship. The apprenticeship is now approved for delivery for employers and training providers in England from 2019. Here one of our apprentices, Lizzie Stephens who joined Historic England in September 2018 as a Geospatial Survey Technician Apprentice talks about her experience to date

1.              What made you apply to your apprenticeship at Historic England?

I did a degree at Lincoln University in conservation and restoration of historic objects. I then spent a year abroad teaching in Thailand. When I came back to the UK, I struggled to find work in conservation and for the past few years, I’ve had a number of retail jobs in hospitality. I was desperate to get back into heritage.

When I saw this apprenticeship, it sounded perfect. It was a great way into this environment while learning and getting on-the-job training in such a specialised area.


2.              Can you describe a typical day as an apprentice at Historic England?

A typical day is hard to describe. I’ve been out of the office so much on site visits. I’ve been to caves, museum stores, looking at either whole buildings or tiny coins… There is such a diverse range of projects.

When I’m actually in the office, I’ve been mainly processing photos that we’ve taken on site, and trying to get my head around some of the software, and often attending meetings about upcoming projects.

3.              What has been the highlight of your apprenticeship so far?

It was the first site I went on, which was only in my second week. It was two caves in Nottingham – I never knew there were masses of caves under Nottingham! The ones we visited that day were all under pubs. We’d walk into a pub and then down into the cellars and then carry on going down... The scanning equipment we were using gave us an instant 3D image as we were walking around. It was a really important moment for me, right at the beginning of my apprenticeship, to see it all coming together and was a great introduction to the geospatial side of heritage.

I’ve also been to Longthorpe Tower, just on the outskirts of Peterborough. That was really beautiful because it’s full of medieval paintings. Another highlight was Dunston Staithes in Gateshead; it is a huge wooden structure and was completely different to anything else I’ve worked on.

4.              What do your family and friends think about your apprenticeship?

My family and friends have been really supportive; they all think the apprenticeship sounds really interesting and a great fit for me. I’ve always got somewhere new that I’ve been to talk about and it’s started conversations with family on stories when they have been to the same places. Having that network of family and friends  is so important, as often there can be lots of traveling, staying away at different locations or getting back late and busy days with lots of information to take in, it’s so useful to have their support, their  willingness to listen,  understanding and their constant encouragement. 

5.              How do you feel that your apprenticeship might help you with your career prospects for the future?

This apprenticeship is giving me so many opportunities to network with different people and make links throughout the geospatial community, which I think is so important, not just for contacts but as a way for me to see what is going on in different sectors and broaden my sights as to where my future could lie. I’m learning so many new skills including currently training to get my PfCO, to allow me to fly drones commercially. I think all these new skills as well as the experience I will gain from working in Historic England for the two years will hopefully put me in good stead for a career within this sector.

6.              What would you say to anyone thinking about applying for an apprenticeship at Historic England?

Apprenticeships are a fantastic idea! Gaining qualifications while getting-on the-job experience is really important. Historic England is a great organisation and has interests across the country; it’s been fantastic to be able to visit so many amazing locations while doing my job. The support I have been given has also been excellent and there is always someone available to talk through issues or explain a piece of equipment again or just to chat with.  I would defiantly recommend applying for an apprenticeship with Historic England.

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