The Recruitment Drive

As any school leader will tell you, we are currently entering into a fairly frenetic period in the academic year where teachers begin to consider making career moves for Easter and September. Between now and May headteachers and school leaders up and down the country will be looking at their staffing and wondering who will be staying, who will be going and how can they attract the best teachers to their schools.

Within my own school we currently have three teachers who are due to have babies and maternity leave is beckoning (they are three talented individuals who help drive a lot of change in school), we need a new teacher as part of the expansion project we are in, and we have two full time vacancies to fill for September. As a result of this we thought we’d get our adverts in nice and early in February to beat the rush of advertised vacancies and therefore have the best possible chance of recruiting high calibre candidates. It turns out though, that many other schools have the same idea and this year, more than ever, there are an abundance of jobs out there. It seems to me that with the current stresses and strains on the profession, greater numbers are leaving teaching and less are coming on board. In short we have a problem. But, just when I was starting to have the odd negative thought about how we were going to make our school stand out from the crowd in terms of the recruitment drive, a number of things began to happen that filled with me with optimism. We started to have some really high calibre people look around and it wasn’t by chance.

CC Peter McCoubrie

CC Peter McCoubrie

Candidates who viewed the school came from a number of areas – some had seen our OFSTED report from last year (which was really positive so this helped) and some knew of the school’s reputation in the area – both of these facts were pleasing. However, what pleased me more was that we had candidates apply for the position as a result of networking the school had done – we had made links with schools in the Midlands and nationwide and this had enabled the school to be seen as a positive, forward thinking place to work which encouraged a number of candidates to apply. We also work hard to spot and nurture talented teachers in a variety of settings and, through keeping touch with these up-and-coming individuals, and offering them guidance and career advice, we ensured that when jobs came up they were keen to apply. This aspect I find the most pleasing because, as a headteacher, I feel a moral responsibility to develop, nurture and inspire (hopefully, although I can’t promise to get it right all of the time!!!!!) the next generation of teacher and leader coming through as many others did for me. There were times in my career when I’d phone up an old HT or a HT that inspired me to ask for career advice and my mantra as a headteacher is to repeat this kindness and trust that I was shown. The by-product of doing this has turned out to be that these people look for opportunities and want to work in the school.

In an ever competitive job market where schools struggle to recruit now more so than ever, the main way forward has to be to make links with talented people at the onset of their careers and that is where Schools Direct, links with universities, SCITTs, networking and other forums really come into their own. I also think that the benefits of Multi Academy Trusts, federations and established networks are becoming more and more evident because they enable the net to spread wider to harness talent and they also allow schools to retain talented staff because the secondment and developmental opportunities for a range of leaders are huge and varied.

The bottom line for me on recruitment is that if you want talented, passionate and vibrant candidates to apply then you have to put in the groundwork and make sure you do everything you can to attract these high calibre individuals after all – you only get out what you put in. The secret to a successful recruitment drive is the development of people and the investment of time in nurturing trust and inspiration.


Reasons to be a headteacher

This post comes about as a result of @gazneedle highlighting that in previous posts there is mention of the ‘positives’ of going into headship without actually alluding to what they are. He said that he’d love to have it sold to him. Well here goes…

This might seem strange but I’m going to begin with a perceived negative and try and flip it on it’s head. By far the biggest reason that I hear of teachers not wanting to aim for headship is the responsibility that goes with it – the fact that the buck stops with you. Well I guess the short answer to that is ‘yes it does’ but there is another point to be made. As a headteacher the buck does stop with you and yes that is daunting (at times) but life is about taking risks, stepping outside of your comfort zone, pushing yourself into unchartered territory and putting your head above the pit. It’s one thing to think headship isn’t for you because you enjoy the role of day to day class teaching too much (although as a HT you can still be heavily involved in learning with the children) but don’t be put off by headship because of responsibility. When you eventually depart the Earth no one will judge you for being a good or bad headteacher – they will judge you on your strength of character and attitude to life. With that in mind here are the positives of being a headteacher so, if you are a teacher or senior leader, then take them onboard and start aiming for what is a great and fulfilling role.

#1 Implementing your vision

Copyright: All rights reserved.

Copyright: All rights reserved.

There is no feeling like steering a school in the direction that you totally and utterly believe. It is a great feeling to know that you have the ability to draw out everything you believe in education and implement this into a school. I’ve worked for some great HTs who had exciting visions but nothing beats guiding a school in the direction you believe.

#2 Empowering the children – showing you care

When I first started as HT two years ago I set myself the challenge  of getting to know the name of every child in the school (360 of them) within a month. I managed it and now, when I stand on the gate in the morning, I welcome them all in personally. I also know what interests they have (this takes longer to acquire this information and then remember it!) and it’s a great feeling to see their face light up when you welcome them onto the playrgound by using their name and referencing an interest. Children know when an adult is genuinely interested in them and it matters to them that the person in charge of the school values them as an individual.  We’ve all worked in schools where the HT locks themselves away and is rarely seen – to know that standing on a gate, smiling and welcoming children into school makes a difference is a great feeling especially when the child who is often quiet and shy starts to come out of their skin and shine. As a class teacher that’s a great feeling with a class of 30, imagine what it’s like with 360. Magic!

#3 Developing people

Photo Credit:  CC Marfis75

Photo Credit: CC Marfis75

It is a real privilege knowing that you have the ability to positively influence a person’s career – this is the real moral compass of headship. So many leaders had a positive influence on me and if one of them hadn’t shown interest and faith in my ability the journey to get here would have taken longer. To know that I now have the responsibility of similarly developing people is a real honour and, when a staff member who you have invested so much time in, takes a step forward in their career it a very rewarding experience. It might sound a bit twee but I love the quote: ‘All the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today.’ That quote not only rings true for the children but also for all staff under your stewardship.

#4 Leading change

I know a lot of people dislike change but that is an element of the job I love. I really enjoy looking at the school with a clarity and objectivity to see what we have done well that’s worked and what else we can do to improve. The process of focusing on an area that needs improving, implementing change and then assessing the impact is rewarding and you get lots of feedback (quickly) about whether the strategies you are implementing work.

#5 Validation

This one is totally selfish but I think it is very important. Headship is a wonderful experience but also stressful at times, particularly in your first one. The amount of times I doubted myself, worried that I wasn’t up to the mark (see the post on coaching for how to deal with this) and generally felt daunted was quite a lot in the first year in particular. There were only two things I didn’t waver on and they were the direction I was taking the school and the vision – I may have doubted everything else but I never doubted these two things. So, when you get your first OFSTED inspection, it’s a big thing. If it goes well then you are validated – no one can ever take that away from you. I was fortunate that mine went well (OFSTED REPORT 2014) and instantly, for the first time in my mind, I had credibility. It’s hard to describe that feeling – it’s (and this is rather sad) one of the best feelings I’ve had. To know that you have led a school through a period of change and come out the other end with your methods vaildated is a hugely motivating feeling. I’m not sure that I’ll ever replicate that feeling and I may spend a lot of my working life chasing it. It is a unique and highly personal thing to experience.

Education needs YOU!

It’s a well known fact there is a real shortage of headteachers – that’s because it’s a pressured job and a lot of people can be very negative about it. Don’t let them put you off. If you are a good to outstanding teacher or senior leader and are reading this then you need to be seriously considering aiming for headship and what’s more schools need you. We need talented, inspirational leaders who are willing to give it a go.Of course you’ll worry about whether you’re ready. Of course you’ll doubt yourself. That’s natural but don’t let these barriers get in the way. Aim for headship!

If you would like a a free copy of my guide to aiming for headship then click here Securing and Surviving the First Year of Headship. If you are thinking about taking the first steps towards headship or are about to step into the role then get in touch with me via or on twitter @tambotaylor and I’ll be happy to help in any way I can. It is a genuine offer so take me up on it!