Marketing your school to improve recruitment

Justin Smith, of Chameleon Training and Consultancy, explains how strong marketing can make all the difference when it comes to recruiting for your school

With the huge recruitment challenges currently facing schools it is more critical than ever to ensure your school is best placed to attract new talent. However, more often than not, schools fail to do themselves justice when it comes to highlighting their key messages to potential new recruits and demonstrating why they should be the number one choice for those high flyers.

Identifying and articulating these messages is incredibly important; after all, they are how you differentiate yourself from others. Essentially, you’re attempting to pinpoint the things that make your school different – perhaps your unique selling point or value proposition. But, before we get too hung up on terminology, let’s look at what this really means in practice for our schools.

The ‘golden circle’

Author and organisational consultant Simon Sinek explains that the most successful people and organisations understand, precisely, why they do what they do; they define their purpose. In his book, Start With Why, Sinek presents the ‘golden circle’, explaining that most people know what they do and how they do it – but the key is understanding and articulating why you do it.

This concept can be applied across many sectors but is especially true in the human-centric world of education. If your school can really understand its ‘why’ you’re well on the way to developing a set of values and key messages – and these can help differentiate you from the competition.

Investing time and effort into seriously thinking about your recruitment campaign, within your marketing strategy, can reap considerable dividends, especially when you consider the costs associated with supply staff and advertising with a recruitment agency. Having observed some pockets of really great practice by schools throughout the country, here are my top tips for ensuring your recruitment marketing hits the spot.

Top tips for really effective recruitment marketing

  • Define and articulate your key messages – what makes your school such an attractive proposition? How are you tackling the reasons why so many teachers are leaving the profession?
  • Audit your website – how easy is it for potential recruits to access the information they need? Can they download application forms? How about a key facts sheet highlighting ‘Why you should join our school’?
  • Be flexible in your recruitment approach – encourage visits to the school, meetings with the headteacher, optional interview times, etc.
  • Illustrate staff opportunities for progressing their careers – leadership pathways, CPD, etc.
  • Use case studies – personalise your recruitment by showing examples of how staff are progressing in your school – demonstrate your investment in CPD, career progression, leadership opportunities. Real life stories carry so much more impact! These are best done with some mini ‘talking heads’ videos – short clips from an NQT reflecting on their first year at the school, for example, or a head of department talking about their career progression and life at the school. Embedded YouTube videos are very effective and will also help with your SEO, driving your school up the Google search rankings!
  • Part of a MAT, cluster of federation? Illustrate the opportunities that exist to work across a range of settings and environments.
  • Create and foster a culture of wellbeing, support and flexibility; is your commitment to CPD really supported by the school? Is time given to take part in CPD during the day rather than in twilight or end of term sessions? Remember Peter Drucker’s sentiments – ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’.
  • Other added value benefits: healthcare insurance, gym memberships, discounts, etc.
  • School ambitions – you may have aspirations to develop your campus, or replace that old teaching block; things like this demonstrate strategic forward thinking and investment. Perhaps you are considering joining a teaching school alliance or becoming a MAT – ambitious aspirations are attractive to ambitious people.
  • Social media is very cost effective; over 60% of schools manage Facebook accounts, whilst Twitter users are, predominately, under the age of 35 (your NQT target audience). Thirty per cent of web time is spent browsing social networks, so ensure your web platforms are tablet and ‘phone-friendly.
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Above all, really try to empathise with staff when it comes to what’s creating those stress trigger points. Is it really beneficial to run a CPD session on the afternoon of the last day of term? Does that get the best out of people? I doubt it. On the other hand, one school I work with has adjusted their timetable to ensure all staff (yes, support staff too!) receive quality CPD during the school day, every Wednesday morning. This has already had a positive impact and staff are far more engaged and motivated. When it comes to recruitment, you really do reap what you sow.

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