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With school and college budgets under pressure in the midst of a major teacher shortage crisis, getting the right person for the job has never been more vital than it is today. Teacher recruitment is costly and therefore, it's self-evident that attracting and retaining high-quality teachers is something that should receive continuous focus throughout the year. So what can you do to ensure that your school or college embraces recruitment as a year-round demand, and to get your 'product' right so that you attract high-quality recruits?
My preferred option is 'growing your own' and succession planning.
There are two aspects to this: operational and strategic.
Operationally, you need to have a rigorous process for assessing performance and spotting and supporting talent, along with a very well structured mentoring process to grow leadership and foster talent development.
The first step is to be certain about which staff you want to retain in order to fill existing or planned posts. Know the skill set you are looking for and identify staff who show signs of being able to master that skill set.
This means having secure evidence about all staff performance and potential and being clear about the value they add to the organisation, that is, in relation to classroom performance/pedagogy, leadership, their behaviour as a role model for others and impact in their role.
The latest analysis of teacher retention, by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), identified six 'protective factors' that encourage teachers to stay in post (see http://tinyurl.com/gsn9hk6). These were job satisfaction, being proud to work at the school, having adequate resources, being well supported and valued by school management and having an effective governing body. I heartily endorse these and would suggest supporting them by, among other things:
providing positive and constructive evaluation of teachers' performance that involves them as participants and is based upon continuous improvement of them as professionals,
playing to their strengths by sharing best practice,
providing appropriate challenge to motivate teachers to improve practice further as well as encouraging them to support others.
All of this underpins a culture more likely to make staff want to stay. Working collaboratively with other schools and colleges can also be a huge help in finding the right staff. Developing close and continuous links with your neighbours means that you may well be able to help solve one another's problems by providing opportunities for one another's teachers.
It's not enough to recruit a good teacher and consider it job done. There's a continuous job to do in ensuring that they don't leave for want of opportunities, feedback or reward.
*A fuller version of this article appears in the April issue of The Leader – please click here to read the complete piece.