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Staffing - recruitment

The recruitment context

It has been widely reported that there is a “war on talent”, that organisations are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and in some cases to retain good staff.

Nationally, roles that require specialist skills are even more difficult to recruit.

The strategic challenges within the education sector have been widely publicised. It has been reported that there aren’t enough teachers of good quality, there are shortages with maths and physics teachers, it is increasingly difficult to recruit for headteacher posts, and teaching posts within primary schools are notoriously hard to fill. The climate is particularly tough in London and the South East, and the Home Counties need to compete with the higher levels of pay in London.

So what can your school do?

Within this context it would be wise to start thinking about what you can do to improve recruitment and selection within your school, and to identify how you can take positive steps to ensure your school becomes a place that people seek out to work, in other words to become an “employer of choice” and to consider a range of methods to attract top talent.

At the moment it is an employee’s rather than an employer’s market. It is unsurprising that feedback from schools suggests that candidates are commanding high salaries, which some schools are struggling to meet.

It is essential to think ahead in terms of preparing for staff turnover, not only for those you know will be retiring but for unplanned leavers, as last-minute recruitment can often leave you with slim pickings.

It is important to think about how you can grow and develop talent from within your school, and in particular how you can provide opportunities for progression and development for high-performing staff members that may be at risk of leaving.

It is also worth thinking about creative solutions if you are struggling to recruit or cannot afford to recruit in a particular area. Could you share a post with a neighbouring school? If you are struggling to recruit to a head of department post, is there the possibility of giving additional responsibility to up-and-coming staff within the department to provide cover?

Here are some tips to improve your recruitment and selection process:

Raise your school’s profile

  • Raise your school’s profile through social media, e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook – this can be the most effective way
  • Think about what makes your school unique, e.g. the school ethos, setting and/or staff team, and really emphasise those positive points
  • Develop your website – make it interesting and easy to navigate
  • Promote any job vacancies on your school website

Improve the candidate experience

  • Remember this is a two-way process and that a candidate’s first impressions of the school are key, whether this is their initial contact at application stage or when they first set foot in your school. The interview is as much about the candidate selecting your school as you selecting them – this is an opportunity to sell your school to the candidate
  • Ensure the reception team know when it’s interview day, and that candidates are offered a friendly face and a drink. Give them an opportunity to meet the team
  • Be organised – ensure an appropriate and comfortable room is available, and start your selection process on time
  • Ensure the interview environment is clean and tidy and showcase the school’s achievements

Total reward package

  • Pay is not the only motivator – think about what other benefits you can offer to complement your reward package and promote these, e.g. access to CPD; flexible or part-time working for experienced staff considering retirement or working mothers
  • Increase your learning and development opportunities

How can Herts for Learning help?

The HfL Recruitment team offers a number of services to assist schools in recruiting staff:

Defining the role

  • HfL HR will conduct an initial briefing meeting with the recruitment panel to understand the school’s needs
  • We will provide a suite of updated sample job descriptions, which have been agreed by a schools forum and Hay evaluated (available from spring term 2016)


  • Reduced online advertising rates for teaching roles secured by HfL from The Guardian and the Times Educational Supplement (TES) – take advantage of these rates and don’t pay over the odds
  • Free advertising on the Teach In Herts website -
  • Free online advertising for support roles with TES
  • Reduced agency rates via Randstad and Step Teachers (for temporary and permanent teaching roles) – again don’t pay over the odds for agency staff, and check with HfL if you are unsure about the fees you are being quoted
  • Creation of a preferred supplier list (for leadership posts), to give schools best value for money for hard-to-fill posts


  • Creation of interview packs (available from summer term 2016) for specific non-teaching roles, to include job description, person specification, application form, and competency-based interview questions
  • Provision of psychometric testing
  • Provision of ICT testing

The recruitment team is also currently developing recruitment and selection training to equip schools with the knowledge to recruit talent with the right skills, attributes and behaviours (available summer term 2016).

For further information contact: Toni Argent, HfL Recruitment Services on 01438 844891 or email

> Performance management


Herts for Learning
01438 843263