The latest TES Teacher Recruitment Index report tracks how successful secondary schools in England have been at recruiting, by subject and region. We found that schools filled a higher proportion of vacant posts during the Easter 2016 period than in any Easter period since 2012. However, the index also highlighted that schools are less happy with the calibre of teaching candidates, down from 79 per cent in 2015 to 71 per cent now. So despite some success with recruitment, there are growing worries this rise is at the expense of teacher quality. What can schools do to help combat the quality issue and attract top talent?
After digesting the index results and speaking to the teaching community, we’ve found that there is a disconnect between when schools are recruiting and when quality candidates are researching new opportunities. Our figures are collated at Eastertime, one of the busiest recruiting periods of the year. However, at this point, teachers are so preoccupied with their students they don’t have the headspace to think about changing jobs. It’s only during the summer holidays that they have the time to consider their career options. Because of this disconnect, permanent recruitment agencies are playing a much bigger role in the recruitment process, which is proving to be an expensive and inefficient way to recruit.
Teachers are short of time, school budgets are tight and competition for talent is fiercer than ever. To deal with the competition and timing issues, schools must find ways to adapt and be flexible and attract the best talent to attract the finest teachers. They need to consider their recruitment strategies and market themselves across all channels from an improved social media presence, to simpler applications processes and websites that work on mobile. Schools must also recruit year-round so good candidates are able to seek them out.
But it’s not all bad. Schools are already finding ways to adapt to today’s tough recruitment market. Many are hiring more newly qualified teachers – our survey of 200 school leaders carried out this summer found that 37 per cent of respondents said they were recruiting more NQTs this year than last, and same proportion said they were recruiting more unqualified teachers. Other schools are restructuring roles. Our survey found schools were willing to be flexible in order to recruit the right staff: 82 per cent of respondents said they had restructured roles in order to make sure they filled a post. Other schools are encouraging more part-timers. A TES survey of 1,500 past and present teachers carried out in June found that 77 per cent of those who had left the profession would consider returning, but only for part-time or job-share roles. Retaining teachers and tempting back those who lapsed will be critical to managing today’s recruitment challenge.
Yes, the recruitment environment is tough, however it can be a much better picture if schools adopt the right processes throughout the year. With increased flexibility and a consistent recruitment strategy, schools can position themselves in the best way to attract top calibre talent.
This article originally appeared in Education Today.