Is your trust’s recruitment process as efficient as it could be? 

A candidate being interviewed for a new job as a Multi Academy Trust
By Conrad Emmett | 3rd June 2024 | 8 min read

Competition has rarely been fiercer when attracting new staff to your school or Multi Academy Trust (MAT). 

Lower-than-average pay and challenging working conditions have created a recruitment crisis – and a hiring challenge few would envy. 

Tight funds that have dwindled in real terms since 2010 often make reversing this situation feel impossible. It can be difficult at times to pay for the staff you have, let alone keep your buildings’ infrastructure up to par and take time to improve best practice. 

So, how do you turn things around? Let’s begin by getting an overview of the recruitment market before moving on to ways you can create an environment that attracts new staff.  

We’ll then look at some top tips for approaching the jobs market. 

A look at the teacher recruitment landscape 

The retention issue you face is being experienced by the education sector as a whole. 

The most recent numbers for teachers leaving education saw 40,000 head for new pastures.  

Primary school vacancy rates are roughly what you would expect, but the number has risen in secondary schools. A recent census showed twice as many vacancies as the previous year.  

So, are NQTs entering the sector to meet this shortfall? Not as many as you would like. 

There’s recently been a 20% year-on-year decline in people pursuing teaching as a career. Of these, 78% fewer had first-class or 2:1 degrees than the previous year – even though more people attained these grades across the general population. 

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A reminder that recruitment is an issue for all staff 

This recruitment pain applies to all school staff, not just teachers. There are almost twice as many job openings for support staff now as before the pandemic. 

Some would-be support staff have left to work in other sectors, for businesses such as supermarkets

This can quickly impact pupils. Filling support roles is, of course, critical in supporting those with complex needs, and in recent years it has been reported one school had to send children home because one-to-one support was not available. 

Ways you can attract more staff 

The result of all we’ve discussed so far is that you have to ensure you attract as many of the most gifted candidates as possible.  

Only then will you find the best fit for your school or MAT. 

So how can you achieve this? 

Free up cash where you can for salaries – If your systems are fully integrated, you can monitor funding and salaries and map finances better. The result is that you can make more informed spending decisions. 

Fine-tune staff training – Make sure prospects know there is a development plan for them. If you have good software infrastructure, you will be able to map out learning pathways – all of which makes people feel they don’t just have a job with you but a career.  

Build a great environment – A school with streamlined internal systems will make for a smooth recruitment process and a positive interview day.  

Adopt flexible working – It might not feel possible to have flexible working at a school, but if you can track all staff by the hour, you can make accommodations. Flexibility can be a significant draw for many individuals, particularly those balancing family commitments or considering a career change. Offering part-time roles, job shares, and flexible working hours can attract a broader range of candidates. 

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Target recruits effectively 

So far, we’ve seen how you might create an attractive environment for would-be recruits. But how do you reach out to these great candidates in the most effective way possible? Here are some solutions. 

Accelerate the hiring process: Ideally, the entire recruitment cycle – from crafting and disseminating a job ad to successfully appointing a candidate – should span no more than four weeks. This ensures you remain competitive, capturing candidates’ interest and completing the process before delays cause them to look elsewhere. 

These delays frequently stem from a need for human intervention at various points in the process. Implementing a centralised software system can streamline your hiring by monitoring crucial milestones, organising workflows, and stopping any bottlenecks from slowing you down. 

Use automation: Automation potentially moves people to more strategic tasks while ensuring fairness and efficiency in recruitment processes. Here's where it can help: 

  • Role approval: Streamline the sign-off process for advertising new positions. 
  • Advert and job description generation: Automate the creation of engaging job listings and detailed descriptions. 
  • Job posting: Automatically publish vacancies on platforms tailored to the role. 
  • Pre-filling application forms: Use information from resumes to auto-fill application forms, saving applicants time. 
  • Acknowledging applications: Instantly confirm receipt of applications to candidates. 
  • CV anonymisation: Automatically redact personal details from CVs to promote unbiased screening. 
  • Standardised communication: Use template-based messaging for consistent and efficient applicant communications. 
  • Self-service interview scheduling: Enable candidates to choose their interview slots, making things more convenient for everyone. 

It’s also worth talking about AI. AI is growing in its usefulness in this field, with some features already making an impact. Ask your vendors what’s on the roadmap and see if what they are proposing will make a difference to your school or trust.  

However, whichever way you go with automation or AI, the human touch remains important. Make sure you’re checking the process at the right times to ensure no great candidates get lost. 

Maintain candidate engagement after making an offer: Keeping in touch with candidates after extending an offer and before they officially sign up is essential. It prevents them from considering counter-offers or withdrawing at the final stages.  

Introducing a personalised onboarding portal can make a difference here. Such a platform serves as a welcoming gateway for new hires, detailing actionable steps and providing essential documents.  

Automated background checks and reference verification will make the onboarding process faster and smoother. Automatically triggered communications – such as emails, reminders, and notifications about record check results – keep candidates informed and engaged, and ensure a smooth and efficient journey for the new staff member. 

Let IRIS help with summertime recruitment 

This summer, there’s every chance your recruitment activity will be hitting an all-time high. 

IRIS can help you: 

  • Streamline your recruitment process 
  • Save thousands on supply cover 
  • Ensure the safety of your students 
  • Build powerful talent pools 
  • Automate complex processes like screening 
  • Retain staff  

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