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Why you need a people strategy in your school or trust

Developing a strategy to manage your people is crucial to recruitment and retention in any organisation, not least a school or multi academy trust.

In many multi-academy trusts, the role of staff management is often the responsibility of a human resources professional who will oversee operational matters such as absence, recruitment and induction, and employee relations. However, as trusts become more established, the role of people management must also evolve, from ensuring that processes and policies are followed, to supporting staff to develop their skills, unlocking the potential of the workforce, and building a culture that allows the organisation to grow and succeed. This is the basis of a People Strategy.

What is a People Strategy?

In his recent webinar for BlueSky, Stone King’s Head of HR Consultancy Services Craig Vincent outlined the basic principles of developing a people strategy for a school trust. He explained the difference between an HR strategy and People strategy:

“The HR plan is about putting in place the systems, policies and processes that support the workforce to function, such as recruitment, induction and ensuring staff receive mandatory training. People strategy is more about building relationships with employees and unlocking their potential in order to develop and grow the organisation.”

The objective of a people strategy is to define how:

  • the organisation attracts high quality talent
  • it will engage and retain staff
  • talent will be developed to support individual and organisation growth
  • performance is managed to support wider organisation strategy
school performance management, British International schools, International schools, People strategy

“There is a relationship between teacher engagement and retention. Most (90 per cent) of the engaged teachers are not considering leaving, compared with only a quarter of disengaged teachers.”

Engaging Teachers: NFER Analysis of Teacher Retention

People strategy

What are the benefits of a People Strategy for trusts?

In case anyone needed reminding, recruitment and retention is an enormous challenge for the sector. While many of the reasons teachers and non-teaching staff leave the sector are difficult for us to control, there are strategies schools and trusts can employ to ensure staff feel supported in their work and more deeply engaged with the organisation. The aim of a People Strategy is to build an approach to people management and culture that significantly improves job satisfaction and, therefore, staff retention.

Craig Vincent, who has advised numerous trusts on their HR and employment strategy, commented “It’s about time that we are a bit more forward-thinking and strategic approaches in schools in relation to the management of people. Really spending time developing a strategy that supports our people, looks after our people, develops our people, recruits new people and retains our talent, I think is really, really important.”

An effective people strategy puts people at the centre of the organisation’s strategic vision, and can offer a competitive advantage in attracting talented staff and supporting them to perform at their best. Beyond ensuring that the organisation has the right staff in place to perform the work, a people strategy can also enhance your employee’s experience of work, ensuring that they are engaged with their role and feel valued by the organisation, which has a known impact on job satisfaction and retention.

In our next piece we will explore the key steps to developing a people strategy for a school or multi-academy trust.

How can BlueSky support people strategy in your school or trust?

BlueSky allows schools to link all aspects of staff development within a single, easy-to-use and flexible platform. From performance reviews to school quality assurance, all processes related to appraisal, professional development and evaluation are managed consistently for all school or trust staff, in line with your organisation’s culture and values.

Leaders can easily aggregate intelligence from across the organisation to identify and nurture talent, deliver targeted professional development and assess progress towards organisational priorities, using BlueSky’s holistic reporting features. At the same time, all staff gain a personal portfolio to track their professional development journey and are engaged through a rich, ongoing professional dialogue with colleagues and mentors.

Learn more about our flexible staff development solutions for trusts here.


Engaging Teachers: NFER Analysis of Teacher Retention – Sarah Lynch, Jack Worth, Karen Wespieser, Susan Bamford – 09 September 2016

Stone King – Education Law 

Want to know more about this topic?

Our guidance paper, Changing Approaches to Performance Management and Appraisal – Part 1, explores how these essential people management processes are changing in schools and trusts today. The guidance, developed in partnership with ASCL, examines the evidence and possible justifications for this change and outlines some of the considerations necessary to ensure the change in practice continues to deliver on accelerating outcomes. 

Tamsin Denley

Author: Tamsin Denley,
Head of Marketing and Partnerships

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