As leaders we need to be creative in our approach to recruitment, but we also need to look carefully at retention. With compulsory EBacc and Progress 8 at secondary, the demand for specialist teachers is soaring. Similarly at primary, we’re all looking for teachers of reading, writing and mathematics who are excited by the ambition of the September 2014 curriculum and whose practice models what we know enables most pupils to master the skills so vital to their futures. Once we find these specialists teachers, we need to do everything we can to keep them. It isn’t easy, and as a trust chief executive I see a major part of my job is to find and nurture talent and keep it developing within our family of schools.
A number of retention initiatives at Ormiston Academies Trust (OAT) are making a positive difference. The proactive approach to retention is working, as many of our leaders today were our new recruits of a few years ago.
1.Understand what motivates staff to stay or go
New research from LKMco and Pearson underpins what we already know and see in the classroom every day. As Rod Bristow from Pearson says: “teachers want to make a difference for our children; when they feel they can’t for whatever reason, we risk losing them from the profession” – so it’s our job as leaders to make sure the right support is in place and that we are empowering staff to deliver. That means good leadership and management structures, fair pay and realistic and well defined expectations of each individual. It is worth looking up that study to keep all the elements front of mind on a daily basis.
We go the extra mile to counter the challenge of geography
2. Ensure each member of staff feels they are on their own CPD journey
Let’s face it, we are all in competition to keep the brightest and the best, so it is important your continuous professional development (CPD) encourages people to stay. We’ve developed an online learning portal; we host internal training conferences and events; and we have an accelerated pathway to headship that our ambitious recruits can follow. We identify our “expert” teachers, we award them with the “OAT gold standard” and then they have the opportunity to work across the family to share their knowledge. This can be incredibly rewarding and enables us to grow our own, with experienced staff developing newcomers.
3. Involve staff in the development of your trust identity
You will build loyalty if you give staff input into the development of your education model and USPs as a group. We know that teachers are inspired and motivated by having an impact, and being part of a group of schools gives staff the opportunity to achieve even wider influence than they might elsewhere. By empowering staff to help define and develop your “offering” as a trust, you will secure greater loyalty and a sense of common ownership of your way of working and the results it achieves.
4. Use your scale for good
One of the most powerful benefits of being in a multi-academy trust or federation is the opportunity to offer new levels of leadership and professional development pathways to staff, particularly as you start to scale. This can really help you to retain your most talented leaders. Headship is no longer the ceiling in our profession; trusts like ours are developing executive heads, regional directors and specialist school improvement roles, keeping the career rewarding and challenging for the most ambitious.
5. Counter the forces acting against you
We know that our schools are not always in the most glamorous locations, yet teachers commonly say location often convinces them to take and stay in a job. So to keep our staff, we know that we need to go the extra mile to counter the challenge of geography and are developing incentives such as subsidised rental schemes.