about us 

spark & associates was formed to offer practical, expert advice for employers and providers on apprenticeship implementation. No fuss, no faff - just practical, hands on help.  Our combined expertise in skills and apprenticeships can't be matched anywhere. Read our profiles below and you will see why. 

spark is a group of like minded skills and apprenticeship pragmatists - we like to fix problems and create structures to make things easier next time - this is the core of our individual and collective DNA.

Our aim is to transfer our skills and knowledge to your team. Our track record includes successful implementation of apprenticeship programmes for employers hiring and training their first apprentices or expanding their existing programme through using their levy and budget wisely, or enabling training providers setting up to deliver high quality apprenticeships.


Our combined clients have spanned almost every sector and size of organisation in the public and private sector. We offer a one to many experience - a single point of contact for you, backed by a team of experienced specialists, harnessing our collective skills on your behalf. 


Kay Butterfield 

  • Kay has worked in FE and skills for 26 years. She worked for the SFA supporting national employers with apprenticeships and led on the public sector target in health. 

  • Kay has significant understanding of the apprenticeship reforms, technical funding and quality.  She has specialised in working with NHS Trusts across England  

  • Specialist in employer-provider delivery, helping employers to start and grow their apprenticeship programmes. private and public sector employers to understand apprenticeship reforms and prepare for Ofsted. 

  • Experienced at supporting HEIs to develop ESFA compliant systems to enable delivery of external apprenticeship programmes including involvement with professional body modification panels.

Maxine Craddock

  • A qualified accountant and experienced financial manager intially with Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council (returning on a consultancy basis in recent history)

  • Held senior finance and management roles in a number of public and private companies including Birmingham City Council, Business Link Birmingham, Business Link Staffordshire, Government Office for The West Midlands and The Big Lottery Fund.

  • Since 2016 supported employers to manage their financial modelling for apprenticeship levy funding, and analysing staffing data to help employers identify priorities and opportunities for apprenticeships. She has supported employers to create costed multi-annual plans to maximise the use of their levy funds over the short and long-term.   

Helen George 

  • 30 years’ experience at senior levels as a civil servant working across several central Government Departments with most of that time spent in the Department for Education (DfE) and its predecessors,

  • Developing and implementing policy on Further Education, apprenticeships and the economic growth agenda.

  • Worked with a number of local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships in negotiation of skills elements of City and Growth Deals.

  • Since 2016 continued to work in the field of Further Education and Skills delivering  consultancy projects for Leeds City Region and Sheffield City Region.

  • Employed by the University of Warwick to advise on growth of their own staff apprenticeship programme. 

Tammie Harwin 

  • 10 years in public sector roles, with 8 years spent at the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and LSC

  • While at the SFA, worked within the Reforms and Standards team to develop apprenticeship reform policy, including the levy.

  • A specialist in working with 'trailblazer' employer groups to develop the new apprenticeship standards alongside other key projects 

  • Worked with some of the UK's largest businesses to develop and account manage their apprenticeship contracts

  • Delivered numerous bespoke apprenticeship projects, helping employers to effectively utilise their apprenticeship levy, and supporting provider and other stakeholders to work effectively in the new apprenticeship and skills environment.

  • Led development of new Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standards with key employers from many sectors 

Rebecca Rhodes

  • Former Head of Apprenticeship Funding Policy Implementation at the Skills Funding Agency developing and implementing the Apprenticeship Reform programme including the levy, funding caps, funding eligibility and the new Apprenticeship Funding Rules 

  • Works extensively with employers of all sizes in the public and private sector on their apprenticeship and skills programmes and also with employers and Universities to set up or expand their apprenticeship delivery. 

  • Also the former lead for Degree Apprenticeship  policy and Former Head of Localism and separately,  Sector Skills developing and implementing City Deals and Sector Skills Agreements on behalf of government to meet local and sector skills shortages 

  • Former learning and development and organisational development specialist in the a range of private sector companies & sectors 

meet the bright sparks