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Recruiting the best staff: Why schools need to go the extra mile to show they care

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When I first became a Head, my thoughts were filled with how I could best support the pupils in my care and ensure that their outcomes were as good as they could possibly be. I think this is the ultimate goal for all senior leaders and indeed, hopefully, anyone who comes into the teaching profession. However, as a Head you have a unique opportunity to impact this across the whole school – and the best way to ensure success is to invest in your people. Your role in staff appointments, and subsequently their professional development and well-being is probably one of the most crucial aspects of the Head’s job. They will have their eyes and ears to the ground. They will see the pupils in every facet of their school lives, and they will often be the difference between a pupil achieving their very best or falling short (however that is judged).

So I am often surprised at the lack of care and attention schools give to the teacher recruitment process; an uninspiring ad in the TES, reams of poorly thought out information for that particular role that comes in a thick pack, and the lack of follow up by the school for those who apply. These are just some of the errors that schools make even before they start the interview process.

I have been fortunate enough to have taught in some world famous schools that I am sure still attract considerable interest when a teaching role becomes vacant. However, with an ever-reducing field of high quality candidates worldwide,  no one can rest on their laurels. The international schools market has grown exponentially over the past 15 years, and this has come hand in hand with a quantum leap in quality. As a result, more and more teachers in the UK are looking overseas as part of their career progression, especially as these roles are now seen as genuine positions for development, and UK schools are much more likely to seriously consider their application on returning home. 

Unfortunately, the teaching profession in the UK continues to see a concerning fall in numbers as each year more teachers continue to leave the profession than join due to unfavourable terms and conditions. This issue is compounded by the growing demand for top quality teachers overseas who can earn much more in far more conducive conditions. In 2022/23 alone, at least 24 Premium brand British curriculum schools are due to open in the Middle East and Asia regions. This is in addition to the hundreds of excellent schools already operating there. 

So how do we go about attracting the best staff? It is not easy, but the following suggestions might help:

 

  • Make your school stand out: Make your advertisement vibrant and lively. Today’s world is all about 3-dimensional impressions, so link the advertisement to relevant video footage. This is where Kampus24 is head and shoulders above the competition. In our schools group, we create personalised application experiences for every role we advertise using Kampus24.

 

  • Ensure you personalise the experience: Each of our Heads, Heads of Department and the relevant other staff record a short video vignette about the job role. The Kampus24 platform sits away from the website, and links directly to the advert. There you are taken to specific video hotspots about the role, the school and the people you will be working with. 

 

  • Get back to everyone. Personalise your communication. If candidates have a respectful and positive experience with your school brand, they will be your best marketing tool when speaking to colleagues and friends in the sector– even if they don’t succeed in their application for the role. Use them as positive word of mouth to advocate for your school to future teachers who may apply for a role with you.

 

  • Show you care: Make this effort now and candidates will rightly assume that you are an employer worth joining. It doesn’t matter whether you are in the UK or a group of schools overseas. The number of fish in the pool is reducing, and the number of fishing rods being cast is ever increasing…

If all of this sounds like too much work, then it might be worth asking the question ‘how valuable are my staff?’ In short, in order to attract the very best staff, you have to go the extra mile. And it definitely works! Every job that we have posted in the past year using Kampus24 has received positive comments from applicants in terms of the care and attention that has gone into the search. Their view (not unreasonably) is ‘if you take this much effort to recruit me, then I can assume that you will take care of me when I am one of your staff’. 

Not a bad thought…

 

Ian Hunt, Chair and CEO of Haileybury Schools in Kazakhstan (Haileybury Almaty & Haileybury Astana), and Board member and Chair of the Education committee at Danes Hill School, Surrey.

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