Recruitment, Retention and Reputation: Getting the Right People on the Bus

So I am 3 weeks in to my new role as Headteacher of Aureus School. It has been a full on launch into Headship. There really is no preparation for the day-to-day variety of the role. Where on the NPQH are you taught about project management and media relations? I have interviewed and appointed some really impressive Governors, I have networked and initiated collaborations with the Headteachers in my local vicinity, I have been interviewed by the regional press and had a photoshoot in my wellies, high visibility jacket and safety goggles!

The key priorities this term are:

  1. To sign off the aesthetic designs on the site to ensure that the interior fixtures and fittings, colour scheme and paint work are to my liking – who knew I would be able to choose some of the design features of our beautiful building. I have already made small tweaks like swapping dining room tables from trestle style to family dining style – these choices might seem insignificant to some but they will impact on the school culture and routines.
  2. To recruit my team. This is the most exciting bit – ensuring that I get the right people on the bus. To attract, recruit and retain a team who will live the values of the vision I have for Aureus. Our Year 7s will be our pioneer year group, their parents our pioneer families, the teachers who join me from day 1 will have the opportunity to shape our school and carve out their careers in a growing school. The teachers in September will hopefully be the leaders in Aureus’ future.

I have said in previous blogs that I do not agree that we have a recruitment crisis, what we have is a retention crisis. We have qualified teachers who are leaving the classroom quicker than we can train them. This should be the focus of our attention as school leaders – what can we do to retain the talent we have? What can we do to re-engage the qualified teachers out there to get them back into our schools?

I don’t have a magic wand but I do know that we have issues with: the workload challenge facing educators; the wellbeing concerns of our profession; the inflexibility of our schools; the archaic talent-spotting practices. We know the challenges that we face but we don’t hear very much about the solutions to these issues. What we do hear a lot about is that teaching is not an appealing nor an aspirational career for lots of graduates.

When I was recruited to GLF I pledged to recruit in a different way, to lead with me vision and values, to attract with the culture I am hopeful that we will create. I want Aureus to be a school where we model that we can teach brilliant lessons, secure great outcomes and… still have a life! So I have recruited through my network and social media only, I refuse to spend thousands of pounds that I don’t have on adverts.

I found a great image breaking down finding your team as the 3 Rs:

three-rs

My recruitment strategy:

  • To connect with educators through multiple channels including Twitter, StaffRm and LinkedIn
  • To speak at events, leading with my values and authenticity
  • To share my passion for teaching, my love of professional learning and my pragmatic approach to school leadership
  • To grow a community interested in my vision for Aureus through my blogs
  • To amplify the positive narratives about our teaching and quieten the negative rhetoric of the Secret Teacher styled blogs and articles that undermine our profession
  • To create a network of educators who are optimistic and hopeful that our profession is not broken, that our profession can be resurrected

Has it worked?

Well we have not got to the interview stage yet but so far we have had 115 register their interest to join us at Aureus through our EOI (Expression of Interest) online form on our website. Bearing in mind we only need 10-12 teachers in Year 1 and 8-10 support staff this is a healthy ratio.

On Saturday I held an Open Afternoon for those who wanted to meet me and find out more. 55 educators interested in teaching at Aureus joined me from 1-3pm. My invite was clear, please don’t spend a weekend researching the school and trust, to complete an application form until you know our ‘why’?

Once again I led with my vision and values. I gave them 10 reasons to join us on our journey, 10 reasons to join us to ‘Grow, Learn and Flourish’:

10-reasons-for-twitter

I explained my vision for each of these 10 reasons and then shared:

  • The subjects we need teachers for
  • The professional learning we will offer for those aspiring to be SENCOs, pastoral leaders and teachers of shortage subjects like Physics and Computing
  • The responsibilities we need leaders for
  • The options for flexible contracts

I then invited those interested to build their own job spec  and tell me what value they could add to our community and explain how their values are aligned to my vision. I am a pretty confident person and have conviction that we need to #BeBoldForChange but this really was a leap of faith.

The feedback has been positive, to my relief. I saw lots of heads nodding in unison as I shared my truths and my insights and experiences resonated with my listeners. Who knew when I co-founded #womened and supported the launch of #BAMEed that so many of these communities would see me as their future leader, the room was full of a diverse educational community seeking the flexible roles that #womened champion, seeking the unbiased talent-spotting that #BAMEed advocates. As one observer commented, I won’t have a problem recruiting a fantastic team, but I will need to manage expectations as I don’t have the budget for everyone I would to like to recruit.

We will see how many convert from being interested into actually applying, but I am hopeful. I met some really impressive teachers with a sparkle in their eyes and fire in their bellies; teachers who are looking for a ‘candle in the dark’. I hope that Aureus can be that light of hope. When I created our mission statement: ‘Nurturing Hearts and Minds’ it was with the whole Aureus community in mind: staff, students, parents and governors alike.

If you are interested, adverts will go live on http://www.aureus.org on January 30th:

recruitment-timeline

My retention strategy:

When I recruit the staff we need to launch Aureus, my focus will then be on retaining my team. I will work hard to get to know them as professionals and as individuals. Regular career chats will texture our strategic vision for the school. As the school grows, we will grow our leaders.

My reputation strategy:

At the moment I am conscious this is about me, my vision and my values. In the future it will be about how we perform, how we collaborate and how we market what we do. The school community: students, staff, parents & governors will help to articulate and amplify what Aureus School embodies.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • Challenging the way that we attract, recruit and retain our staff

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • The contributors of the latest #TalkingHeadsBlogs – no time for books at the moment but am loving reading your journeys to Headship!

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • All of the teachers who joined me on Saturday – thank you for coming, listening, questioning and supporting – I wish I could offer you all jobs in Year 1, but I hope to work with lots of you over the coming years.
  • Tom and Jake  -the fabulous recruitment team at GLF who gave up their Saturday to support my open event.
  • Owain and Sue – my new friends next door at UTC Oxfordshire who hosted our open event.
  • Team #womened – you know who you are – not only did you come to support the event but you helped me tidy up, your sisterhood is appreciated.