We worked out the other day that since becoming a head teacher 4 years ago I have been involved in recruiting and employing 66 members of staff! This isn’t because we have a huge turnover of staff-in fact our longest serving teacher has now been with us for 26 years but because we are expanding. When I joined the school we had one campus with 6 classes. Now four years later, we have two campuses (campoo? campi? We can’t decide upon the plural of campus- we are open to suggestions) with 11 classes, a nursery on site and our own catering crew.
Recruitment is really hard at every level. There is lots of concern about the recruitment and retention of teachers so that is where I will start. Effective recruitment starts with the difficulty of phrasing the advert correctly. I had one sent back because we had asked for a smiley individual and was told that this was discriminatory against people with Moebius syndrome. I had to google it! Getting the advert out takes time and the correct phraseology-how do you make it appealing without being cheesy? Attractive to the right person without it costing a fortune? The timing right to attract the best calibre of candidate without advertising in January for a September start when nobody is yet looking? It matters.
Showing candidates around is great. Whatever anyone says – it does make a difference and it is part of the recruitment process. Don’t turn up looking scruffy, don’t be late and please talk and engage with me, children and other staff. It matters.
Shortlisting is difficult. We are all aware of how long it takes (or should take) to write a quality application. I really think that NQTs should get more training in this as I am frequently amazed at the difference between the good and the not so good. I recently read one who consistently spelt Primary wrong and had obviously cut and pasted without getting the name of the school right on more than one occasion; attention to detail in relation to SPAG really does make a difference. It matters.
Eventually, comes the day of the interview itself. I know that being the candidate is nerve-wracking; I have been there on many occasions. But so is interviewing. I find it incredibly stressful as I know how important it is to get the right person. But how do you really tell given a short lesson observation with a class of unknown children and an interview? When I applied to be a deputy the interview panel came and watched me teach my own class at my school. I think this is ideal but obviously incredibly time consuming and not always possible. I am looking for quality of relationships. How well does each candidate interact and form relationships with the children and adults they are with? This is really hard to teach and yet invaluable in terms of learning. You can see it quickly when it is done well and sometimes even more quickly when it is done badly. Relationships really matter.
After all of the interviews comes the one really lovely phone call and then … the others! Phoning the successful candidate is great. Usually, they are delighted and really chuffed to hear the good news. The others? Not great. I know how difficult it is to listen to anything after you hear the word unsuccessful and feel their pain and disappointment every time. I don’t think that bit gets easier to give or to receive.
Overall, I feel truly blessed to have the opportunity to meet amazing teachers both young and old. I am always chuffed that they are keen to work with us and want to be part of our amazing family. The stress and pain of ensuring recruitment is done well really is worth it. Every child deserves a passionate, committed, kind teacher. We are truly blessed to have recruited lots of them- it matters.