In Summer 2020, at the height of economic uncertainty in the Covid-19 pandemic, UCAS released figures showing more than 21,000 graduates had applied for teacher training programmes. This was an incredible feat, signifying a 65% rise in applications compared with the previous 5 years, and was the first time that the government achieved their overall teacher recruitment targets in eight years.

Sadly, the surge in teacher training applications was not set to last, and the impact of long years of too few applications, coupled with a return to pre-pandemic levels of teachers leaving the profession altogether, has meant that teacher recruitment for your school has never been so tough.

These factors have significantly impacted the number of available, trained teachers in the job market. While these are sector-wide issues that will require intervention in education policy, it has of course resulted in a highly competitive recruitment market where teachers – and school support staff – can have their pick of schools. In order to attract the best talent for roles in your school, you need to ensure your school is a desirable place to work.

If you are currently looking to recruit new staff members to your team, consider the following strategies when you place your teacher recruitment advert.

teacher recruitment

“The evidence seems clear that teacher supply challenges in England are re-emerging after two years of having eased somewhat due to the pandemic. Tackling this effectively requires policy action to improve the financial and nonfinancial attractiveness of teaching.” – Jack Worth, NFER School Workforce Lead

1. Why is your school the best place to work?

School marketing is not just about attracting students – it is also key to attracting – and retaining – top talent. Consider all the touchpoints that potential recruits encounter – most notably, your website: does it communicate a clear vision and purpose that a talented teacher will want to buy into? Embrace teacher recruitment as a year-round demand, getting your ‘product’ right to attract high-quality recruits whenever you need them.

In your recruitment advert you should emphasise what makes your school unique, and why it is a great place to work. Explain the context of your school setting: for example, what are the values and culture of your school? What are the children like?! Try including video clips or testimonies from engaged staff and children explaining (positively) what your school is like.

Consider the benefits of working in the department or team: what initiatives are underway to support students? Does the department have any particular specialisms where they excel? Has the team received any commendations? Do they collaborate and share expertise with other schools?

Conversely, if your school has struggled in recent years and had a poor Ofsted review, address this up front in your ad and explain how your school is improving. What steps have been taken and what has been achieved since the review?

2. Who is your ideal candidate?

Naturally your advert should clearly state what the role involves and what is expected of a successful candidate. However, it may also be useful to define what kind of person would suit this role, considering the values and culture of your school. Are they ambitious, collaborative, eager to learn? Defining these characteristics will help the applicants to understand how they will fit into the organisation. It also helps to have a clear understanding of organisational fit when you are selecting and interviewing candidates.

Your candidates may also be looking for opportunities for career progression. Throughout the teacher recruitment process it is worth explaining the school’s performance management processes for staff, for example how often objectives are reviewed, and demonstrate tangible professional development initiatives that support staff to achieve their objectives.

3. What are the opportunities for professional development?

Ongoing professional development is a key driver of job satisfaction, particularly for millennials in the job market today. It is also well understood that tailored professional development supports retention, as well as driving school improvement.

During the recruitment process, candidates may want to understand what your school offers in terms of an individualised approach where CPD is tailored to each staff member’s professional learning needs. As above, candidates may want to know how professional learning can be linked to career progression and your school’s succession strategy. What in-school programmes are in place to support professional development, for example, the Early Career Framework or NPQs, to ensure that there is adequate time for these to be achieved?

After the uncertainty and stress of the past two years, candidates may also want to know how your school supports mental health and wellbeing. How do your teams carry out mentoring and coaching, and are these formal or informal structures?

4. Is your recruitment process transparent and fair?

Government data shows that there are discrepancies in pay and progression within the education sector which continue to persist. According to the latest government submission to the School Teachers’ Review Body, women in teaching are paid 4.2% less on average than men, despite making up 70% of the workforce. This is attributed to “differences in progression into and pay within leadership posts”: men are more likely to progress into senior leadership roles, although there is no gender gap at headteacher level.

The lack of ethnic diversity in teaching is also being acknowledged, with government data showing that over 85% of teachers in the UK are White British, rising to 92.7 of headteachers. Clearly there is work to be done to increase the attractiveness of a career in teaching for people from diverse backgrounds. Workplace diversity is known to improve productivity and creativity, but it also benefits pupil outcomes when they feel represented by their teachers.

It should go without saying that it is essential that your teacher recruitment process is designed to remove any influence of bias or discriminatory practice. It could also be worth developing a diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) strategy that clearly outlines, for your team and for potential candidates, how you are addressing this.

Key to developing a transparent and fair recruitment process are rigorous practices for gathering information that enable sound, evidence-based decisions. Share these guidelines on your website so potential candidates can see how they will be assessed; this improves the perception of your organisation as a fair employer.

5. Outline your induction processes

“An employee’s first impressions of an organisation have a significant impact on their integration within the team and job satisfaction. Induction is an opportunity for an organisation to welcome their new recruit, help them settle in and ensure they have the knowledge and support they need to perform their role. For an employer, effective induction may also affect employee turnover, absenteeism and employer brand.” – CIPD

There is no doubt that induction is crucial to the effective integration of staff into the workplace and to retention. But induction can all too easily poorly planned and ineffectively implemented, leaving new staff unsure of processes and their role in the organisation. An effective induction process should not only give your new recruit an orientation of the school and introduce them to their colleagues and pupils. It should also clearly outline:

  • How they will be assessed during their probation period?
  • What is the annual performance review cycle and how are staff evaluated/supported?
  • What are the opportunities for coaching/mentoring/professional development?
  • How will new recruits be able to impact on the school? Do senior leaders listen to suggestions?

Ultimately, recruitment in an educational setting is all about context, and needs to focus on more than simply qualifications. As an organisation, it is important to remember that you’re being interviewed as well. Look at your school through the eyes of talented, and picky, teachers on the market; why should they choose you?

If you would like to learn how BlueSky can support your teacher recruitment process, take a look at our guide: How BlueSky Education supports recruitment in Education

Tamsin Denley

Author: Tamsin Denley,
Head of Marketing and Partnerships

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