Effective recruitment, in a crisis

This month the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) released its latest data on the challenges school leaders face when trying to recruit teachers. The survey found that four out of five school leaders were finding recruitment ‘problematic’. The main reason given was a shortage of applicants; so with this in mind, here are my five top tips for successful recruitment.

1. Nothing beats ‘word of mouth’.

Develop a school that has a great reputation and high profile locally in the press and beyond on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Involving parents via newsletters and other channels can help to spread the word.

People will travel to find a really good school to work in, just as parents will relocate to get their children into the school they prefer. That said, people rarely seem to relocate further than an hour away from where they live, so except for the most senior posts, national ads can be an unnecessary expense. You may not have geography on your side (rurally isolated schools struggle more than city types) but you can certainly ameliorate this with a good, high profile.

2. Build a great website.

Make sure your website is accessible and easy to navigate – clunky, slow loading and complicated sites are a ‘turn-away’. We live in a virtual age – make it easy for potential applicants to get what’s needed and have lots of information available to candidates. A pen portrait from an actual employee – ‘what it’s like to work here’ – humanises the school away from the usual vision or mission statements which can sometime be a bit too dry or corporate. If you have them, Keep your links to Twitter and Linked In up to date. Profiles will undoubtedly be checked by discerning candidates.

3. Outline your commitment to prospective employees.

It’s not about us selecting them, but more them selecting us - especially in a ‘buyers’ market. This means telling candidates what professional development and learning looks and feels like in your school; it means any additional benefits ( eg. discounted membership of the on-site gym/sports centre) and anything else that your school offers staff through wellness/well-being programmes. T’ai Chi, anyone?

4. Grow from within. There should be a pathway for staff to follow:

volunteers can become TAs, TAs can become teachers, teachers can become invigilators. Invest in people and they’ll invest in you and your school. The success of TeachFirst could be emulated by a school (or cluster of schools) and get suitably qualified and experienced graduates to become teachers and learn from existing great practitioners. The same is true for potential leaders. Develop a Junior Leadership Team and watch your NQTs become TLRs or TLRs the future SLT.

5. Plan the interview day carefully.

On the day itself, ensure a smooth and seamless process; you want your candidates desperate to work at your school! Even the ones who you might have to turn down – they will go and discuss their day with others. Whatever you’re looking for in a member of staff, make sure you get them spending as much time as possible being put through their paces on what will be their ‘core business’. Working in a school is an intense experience, so make sure an interview day mirrors this. For teachers this means teaching and relating to young people… Get them to teach a ‘full’ lesson (not 20 mins!) and to identify what they would do next lesson as part of the discussion in interview.

Ensure they’re interviewed by pupils too (and preferably with no adult in the room – pupils love this opportunity to be responsible!) For leaders, watching a lesson and giving feedback is a useful additional assessment. And for senior/pastoral leaders? An assembly, of course.


Rob Campbell is Head Teacher at Impington Village College, Cambridgeshire