How to recruit excellent teachers for your school

As a qualifying teacher in Computing / Secondary, I was shocked by the weakness of many UK Secondary schools’ recruiting processes.

I was also dismayed and genuinely angered by the rudeness, the lies, and the spamming of the leading UK teacher-recruitment agencies. One agency I wrote to three times telling them to stop spamming me – in breach of their promise when they first took my contact details. I called them out on twitter – twice! – and they said “sorry, we’ll stop”, and 2 days later started again.

School leaders: teacher recruitment agencies are getting so scummy that candidates are getting fed-up with them (I’ve heard similar resentment from other candidates who the agencies won’t leave alone), don’t want to deal with them. Make it easy for candidates to avoid the agencies!

Here’s some of the things I’ve seen time and time again this year. Do any of the following seem familiar?

  • All adverts redirect you to the school website; not a recruitment page, just the website. “Look at our school! Spend hours trying to find the link buried … somewhere! HAVE FUN!”
  • The recruitment page on the school website lists “NO VACANCIES”, with no contact address, no info.
  • The recruitment page lists the position, but when you click the link, you get an aggressive message telling you you’re not allowed to view the details. No reason given (probably a pre-set expiry date. Although you just started re-advertising, and forgot to update the website…)
  • Recruitment is done by the Head of Department “mentioning it to a few friends in the staff-room” and hoping word will get around. Somehow. Magically.
  • The job is advertised on a recruitment website for a couple of weeks. Only one website. Sometimes only for a single week. Or less. The salary is never listed – except by agencies. Wonder why agencies always list salary, but your school never does? Yeah. So do we.
  • Salary is hidden, but “extra commitments” are thrown at candidates before they even get to read the job description
  • The job is “entry level” but also “right candidate will be appointed Head of Department” … strongly implied (or even explicit!) is that they won’t be paid extra for it, of course
  • No-one at the school seems to know how/where/what is being advertised; they weren’t informed.
  • No parents are informed.
  • No former staff are informed.
  • No alumni are informed.
  • None of the trainee teachers are informed; when you’re hiring NQTs … why approach the ones you already have? That would be too obvious!
  • …etc.

I’ve been a hiring manager for 15 years in competitive industries. Some industries I worked in were plagued by recruitment agencies, and I’m well aware how painful it can be to be forced to work with them. I had to get a new phone number because of the number of agencies who would phone me all hours of the day trying to sell me new staff!

Let me share some thoughts on how SLT and Department Heads could go about hiring…

NB: I’ll update these with links to a detailed blog post for each, as I write them

  1. If you want to see wildlife in a desert, find a watering hole
  2. If you don’t know what’s broken, you can’t fix it
  3. Data, data, data – calculate your TRUE costs of hiring
  4. In a seller’s market, first impressions are the only impressions
  5. “Hope” is not a strategy
  6. It’s not just schools feeling the pinch of squashed budgets

Leave a Reply