Schools are being forced to cast their recruitment net ever wider. Attracting and securing teachers who are the right fit for your school starts long before you advertise a position; it’s about building and marketing your school’s reputation so it appeals to prospective teachers
Before he started Chameleon Training and Consultancy, Justin Smith worked at Wymondham College, we caught up with him then, and he shared what it takes to differentiate your school in a competitive market – advice that rings as true today
By and large we have become obsessed with the brand; Prada will always outrank Primark and this concept extends to your school also. Much has been said on promoting schools to attract prospective students and parents but what about establishing it as a desirable place to teach? As it becomes more difficult to attract and retain excellent teaching staff who fit your school taking measures which result in them coming to you might be a successful approach. For this we turn to the power of marketing – an effective way of establishing your school’s brand, raising its profile, disseminating the values and successes your school boasts and, essentially, presenting it as a first class teaching destination.
Teacher recruitment has become more competitive; we are seeing more focused marketing campaigns designed to attract new talent spanning both traditional and digital platforms. Of course, there’s no quick-fix when it comes to recruitment but adding some razzle-dazzle to your school marketing – as well as some well-timed advertising – may just entice the perfect candidate. With this in mind I contacted Justin Smith, director of marketing and development at Wymondham College, Norfolk, for his views on how savvy marketing can improve recruitment prospects by making schools more attractive to potential teachers.
Justin, what would you say are the key principles of marketing your school to teachers?
More than anything it’s about really understanding your key messages – what are your core values? Then consider what makes your school such an attractive proposition. What are your CPD arrangements? Do you have a leadership programme for new staff? Do they have a way of progressing through your school? Can you articulate the positive reputation your school has? Do you have good staff retention rates? All of these key messages need to be articulated in your advertising to ensure you attract the very best staff.
How do you make this approach work in conjunction with a broader marketing plan? Are there many crossovers and differences?
The key to all marketing processes is to ensure you have a plan, a strategic approach that fits within your wider school development plan. This strategic marketing plan must have the buy-in and oversight of key stakeholders and be a living, evolving document which can be easily changed and adapted to circumstances. For example, you would identify ‘attracting new, high quality teaching staff’ as a priority within your executive summary and develop a programme, actions and timescales to suit.
When advertising vacancies, what would you say are the most successful platforms for marketing to prospective candidates?
It probably depends on the post you’re advertising, especially as traditional print advertising can be quite costly. That said, trade press can be a good way of reaching a specific audience. Social media is great for reaching a broader audience and, of course, it’s far less expensive. LinkedIn is useful when appealing to professionals and, with 65% of Twitter users under the age of 35, it is definitely a platform worth utilising. At Wymondham College we have a very strong social media presence and we know from feedback at open events that most people learn about college activities via our social media footprint.
Your school website will be the main source of information regarding vacancies so make sure these are easy to locate. Remember to pull in those key messages regarding opportunities to progress/CPD etc. – high-quality staff, by their very nature, are likely to want to progress and develop their careers – show prospective candidates that you can help and that your school is the place to be!
When advertising vacancies what can you do to make you stand out from the competition?
Be different! Remember Seth Godin, the best-selling entrepreneur and marketer, who said, “In a society with too many choices and too little time our natural inclination is to ignore most of it.” So, rather than re-print that advert you use all the time, how about re-thinking the wording? Imagine yourself applying for the post – what would attract you?
How do you attract, screen, recruit and hire the very best teaching talent to Wymondham?
We always involve students in the process, especially if it’s a fairly senior post. We have a student panel with their own set of questions at interview and they oversee the college tours for prospective candidates too. This works both ways; their honesty and transparency is welcomed by candidates whilst their straightforward feedback to the panel is really valuable!
So student involvement is very important in your marketing mix?
We’ve just begun working on some ideas involving student-led videos. We’ve developed teams of students within house (the ‘Press Pack’) who can generate content and publicity stories surrounding life in the school. We will post these video clips on our website. Similarly, we are just in the process of editing a new promotional film which centres around the lives of a boy and girl at the college – parents are far more interested in what the children have to say than the traditional and rather stuffy approach of hearing from the headteacher in a dark wooden-clad office!
This article first appeared in Education Executive