As the resignation deadline for staff planning to leave in the summer looms, Anna Hennell James’ hints help to ease the pain of recruitment

I always look forward to the summer term since it’s a really upbeat time of year in school. But it’s also the term in which the resignation deadline of May 31 for staff planning to leave in the summer looms. Even with preparation, recruitment can suddenly become more pressing
than ever.

In Suffolk, where I lead the Orwell Multi-Academy Trust of six primaries, finding good teachers can be particularly tough. There are areas of high deprivation and we’re far from the excitement of big cities.

So here are some tips, based on our experience, to help you to recruit great teachers.

How to find good candidates

1. Don’t forget to cover the basics

Advertise on your school website
and social media channels, but also try recruitment websites such as eteach. We also use local resources, such as Suffolk Jobs Direct. The government also has a vacancy website, Find a Job in Teaching. Wherever it’s placed, your advert must be compelling while also laying out the challenges. Too much gloss won’t draw suitable candidates,
but exciting opportunities will.

2. Give candidates your time

The staples, such as pay, are similar in all schools so it’s the welcome you give candidates that makes a difference as a potential recruiter. I aim for a personal and positive experience rather than sticking solely to the formal interview process.

Applicants feel valued if the headteacher shows them around the school, for example. Introducing candidates to staff they may work with is also a sound idea.

3. Train your own staff

Growing your own staff is a rewarding recruitment strategy. We had one parent-volunteer who joined as a member of dinner staff, became a teaching assistant, then eventually qualified as a teacher.

Schemes such as Teach First can be a great way to train bright new staff from different walks of life. We’ve had about 15 Teach First trainees across the trust over five years, and many have stayed with us.

It can seem risky in primary, given that you can’t choose your trainee and pupils have them for most of their lessons. However, Teach First has a tough selection process so trainees are generally great and we save time in recruitment.

4. Highlight career development opportunities

Let candidates know they can develop their careers with you. Greater awareness of these opportunities provides a real incentive.

5. Create and maintain a network of relationships

Keep in touch with good candidates who didn’t get the job and give specific feedback on how to improve, because you never know when you might need them. Also ask other schools if they’ve had good candidates they didn’t appoint, but who might suit your school.

6. Speak to the initial teacher training providers in your area

We’ve also worked with the local School-Centred Initial Teacher Training and PGCE providers, but make sure you have the capacity to support trainees or they won’t stay. If new teachers feel unsupported, word will get around, making it more difficult to recruit.

What kind of people should you be looking for?

7. People with potential

You don’t need “the finished article”; you need someone who wants to learn and challenge themselves.

8. People who are compatible with the school

Compatibility doesn’t mean appointing teachers who think like existing staff. Someone with a contrasting approach could shake things up.

9. People who go the extra mile

You want people who realise the working day goes beyond school hours. However, you also don’t want staff working silly hours.

10. Recognise that it takes all kinds

A good teacher is not just the all-singing, all-dancing type. Some of the best colleagues I’ve had have been quietly spoken yet commanded the respect of pupils and peers.