10 tips for attracting the best staff and keeping them

March 15, 2018
Nick brook

Nick Brook

Deputy General Secretary, NAHT

Anyone working in a school knows how rewarding it can be.

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This blog is part of Ambition:Feed's finding and keeping great staff challenge. Find more tips and discussion on the Ambition:Feed homepage.

On a good day, teaching is quite simply the best job in the world. Yet these are challenging times. More teachers are leaving the profession prematurely and fewer graduates are applying to join. 

Everyone will have a role to play in making the job manageable again so that we can attract the best people and keep the great people we’ve got.

The result of this, in many areas of the country, is a highly competitive labour market: leaders need to be on the money in order not to lose out. 

Of course, there are no silver bullets for overnight recruitment and retention success, but here are a few pointers that may help:

Attracting the best staff

1. Get the website sorted – prospective staff will judge schools on their website and its constituent parts – make it bold, make it attractive, and include key information imaginatively

2. Sell don’t tell – sell the school to readers; create pupil, staff and parent ‘school podcasts’; sell the culture, values and ethos; the school’s location; Ofsted inspection grade – give readers reasons to want to join your school

3. Raise your profile - take advantage of professional social media networks for posting recruitment advertisements and raising the school’s profile - for example through LinkedIn

4. Open your doors - hold an ‘open day’ for teachers just as you might hold for an ‘open day’ for pupils and advertise it widely

5. Mentor trainee teachers - it is a great way to talent spot, despite extra work at the time, the pay-off is getting to cherry pick the best new teachers coming through

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Keeping the best staff

6. Discuss long-term career plans from day one - this gives a sense of purpose and journey and avoids any sense of drift – ask new teachers what they want to achieve and where they want to be in ten years, then work with them to sketch out how they can get there

7. Buddy up – provide teachers with a career mentor (or act as one yourself) and identify colleagues or people from outside of school who can help them at various stages to succeed and take the next step

8. Instil sustainable working habits throughout the school - heavy workload and poor work-life balance are the top reasons why teachers leave the profession so let your staff know that you are serious about tackling workload. There are new materials appearing almost weekly from the DfE to  help you to think creatively around this. Look at how you model work-life balance yourself - how you behave will set the tone and expectation for those around you, (whether you intend it to or not). Martyrdom leadership only leads to burn out and there are no prizes for working the longest

9. Encourage future leaders by using the ‘tap on the shoulder’ approach – many people don’t see themselves as potential leaders and need someone to tap them on the shoulder and tell them they can do it. Show that you believe in them and that you’re committed to supporting them to succeed through genuine development opportunities. CPD matters: in a recent survey by TeachFirst and ComRes, 88% of teachers said that their school offering excellent leadership development opportunities would have an impact on their likelihood of remaining at that school

10. Counter intuitively – encourage them to move on when the time is right - this may not help with your own recruitment and retention in the short term but will have long term pay-back (as well as benefiting the wider system). Word spreads - you want your school to be known as a place where teachers are supported to progress in their careers


 What's your advice to leaders for finding and keeping great staff? Get involved in the discussion over at Ambition:Feed - tweet us using #ambitionfeed or join our Facebook group. 

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