In times of unprecedented recruitment and financial hardship, how can schools attract new teachers?
Despite being in the heart of London, the teacher recruitment crisis is very real in all types of schools. Head teachers report that there are ‘little or no applications’ for posts advertised, or that vacancies are often filled by supply agencies with steep ‘by-out fees to secure’ an employee. Worse, extortionate fees with popular recruitment newspapers do not necessarily guarantee the perfect candidate.
There are some ‘experts’ who are denying that there are cuts to education. This message has become more prominent since the ‘snap General Election’ has been called for this June, 2017. However, this can never be farther from the truth.
With it being difficult also for schools to secure the ideal candidate, what can schools do to attract and retain teachers to work in their schools? What for challenging schools where behaviour is more difficult to manage for teachers? Or for schools who are inclusive and are punished by arbitrary league table measures? Or schools that are practically ‘hard to reach’ because of their coastal/remote location, or schools in the heart of our cities where costs of living versus teacher salaries, make it challenging for teachers to live and work for a sustainable period of time.
How do headteachers market their own school so that they can recruit the best teachers? Here are my 5 pieces of advice for schools to help them find (or keep their) teachers.
1. Employ someone to keep your school website regularly updated with content and the latest vacancies. Images and videos work wonders! Little or infrequent updates, as well as a website that looks past its ‘sell-by-date’ is unlikely to attract applications …
2. Head teachers and key staff should meet regularly to discuss HR (human resources) issues. In large secondary schools, staff roll can change weekly. It’s important to keep everyone in the loop, and if you can avoid word-of-mouth updates, although keeping a ‘ear to the ground’ is important in schools, finding a mechanism to have all school leaders who are responsible for recruitment on the same page, is critical.
3. Avoid extortionate advertising fees. Use social media to advertise jobs. Ask @TeacherToolkit to help you reach a wider audience, or use our sister-channel @MyEdHunt; there are plenty of schools already using social media to their advantage. Why not give it a go?
4. Track supply agency fees to cut costs. Over the past 3 years, I have tracked supply agency buy-out fees and saved hours of communication and £,000s by simply mapping conversations and contracts. I plan to expose a few of these rates so that schools can all benefit from mindless conversations and ‘best rates’ that are simply not true. Agencies no-longer ‘pull the wool’ over my eyes which ensures our conversations are brief and everyone is treated fairly, including the individual teacher who is paid.
5. Offer incentives to staff. Refer a colleague; promote the school; produce a marketing video and so on can work wonders to keep your own staff motivated. But, if workload and internal school pressures are high, then any incentives to entice current colleagues to stay at your school or ‘refer a colleague’ will fall on deaf ears. If you want to have a good reputation for retaining the best teachers, it’s important to manage their workload and well-being.
If teaching wasn’t hard enough, lack of funding and reduction of teacher salaries, staffing and creative subjects in many schools, makes attracting the right people to the profession a challenge for us all.