Employer value proposition: Recruitment with Andrew Blench

Group of people around the world. Chalk drawing.
Budgets are tight and recruiting and retaining quality teaching staff is difficult. Andrew Blench, consultant at School Business Partners, asks some key questions and reminds us that securing quality staff isn’t just about offering financial gains – it’s about making them an offer they can’t refuse with a robust employer value proposition

Almost one third of teachers who began their career in 2010 quit the profession within five years of qualifying, according to government statistics. A recently released report into the recruitment of trainee teachers said that more than three quarters of subjects missed their recruitment targets with maths, physics, design and technology, computing and business studies being 15% short of their target.

In maths, 18% of teaching time is delivered by people who do not have a post A level qualification in the subject – and in physics the rate is 25%

Schools across the UK are reporting difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff. The recently published report on teaching recruitment and retention by the Commons Education Select Committee revealed that, in maths, 18% of teaching time is delivered by people who do not have a post A level qualification in the subject – and in physics the rate is 25%.

So, in the context of diminishing supply, how can individual schools and academy trusts ensure that they attract and retain the teachers they need to deliver excellent outcomes for young people?

At one time schools would offer higher salaries to attract the right staff but, with the funding challenges that all schools face over the next few years, this is no longer an affordable option.

I would suggest that, against this background, schools would do well to look at what HR practitioners call their ‘employer value proposition’ if they are going to recruit and retain the teachers they need.

Ask what your school offers to someone who is thinking of working for you

What is an ‘employer value proposition’?

The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) says that, ‘The value proposition describes what an organisation stands for, requires and offers as an employer’. So, ask what your school offers to someone who is thinking of working for you – is there anything that you offer that is different from other educational establishments in the area?

Whilst getting a financial reward at the end of the month is important to most people it isn’t the only thing that potential employees look for when seeking a new position. It certainly isn’t the thing which will address, on its own, the crisis in teacher retention – but some subtle improvements to your offer will go some way to recruiting and retaining the staff you need.

A school that is working with its staff to achieve an improvement in work-life balance is surely one that teachers would want to join

Continued professional development

Consider the CPD program you offer to your staff. Could you define this in a more succinct and attractive way?

The Commons Education Select Committee found that a teacher in England, on average, spends four days per year on CPD whereas, in Singapore, this is 12 days. How many days do you offer? Are there any creative mentoring or coaching programmes on offer? Do you offer specific packages of support for NQTs, RQTs and ‘Returners to Teaching’? Could these be improved without spending lots of additional cash?

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Is your school doing anything in response to the teachers’ Workload Challenge? Have you made any changes to your working practices as a result? If not, why not? A school that is working with its staff to achieve an improvement in work-life balance is surely one that teachers would want to join.

A great place to work

What are your expectations in terms of covering for absent colleagues? Whilst national guidance talks of ‘rarely covering’ and only in ‘emergency situations’ what does this look like, in reality, in your school? If you have a really good set up, with internal cover teachers and staff, then why not shout about it?

Often, it’s the small things that can make a huge difference – such as easy access to car parking, a gym which staff can use, subsidised meals or health care scheme and, whilst all staff expect a base level of IT provision, how does this work at your school? If there is a plentiful supply of hardware, the network functions well and there is IT support at hand this is a big selling point for your school. Promote it!

Do you assess each role before advertising to see if flexible working could apply? If you are open to job share or other arrangements then say so in the advert. Whilst this brings its challenges it could encourage someone to apply for the role who wouldn’t do so otherwise and it can also be a useful tool for retaining excellent teachers and helping them ease into retirement.

It’s better to be open about your ethos and approach than to recruit someone who doesn’t share the same values

What makes your educational ethos different from the neighbouring schools? Do you have a particular approach to helping pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to make good progress? How do you build links with your local community and business community? What is your approach to behaviour management?

The Marmite factor? …Or the X Factor!

Some of these things will have the Marmite factor – people will either love it or hate it! It’s better to be open about your ethos and approach than to recruit someone who doesn’t share the same values.

Why not ask your staff for a sentence or two which can be used in publicity about what it’s like working for you? How do they see the distinctive element(s) of working at your school? What benefits does it bring them and what would they miss if they weren’t with you? This might seem like a scary prospect but why not give it a try; the answers might surprise you in a positive way!

Lastly, don’t be shy about it! Produce a flyer for prospective staff outline the expectations and benefits of working for you! Use it in your recruitment adverts and share it with your existing staff.

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