Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher, so the ancient Japanese proverb goes.
But as children across the country head back to school after the summer break, many headteachers are already thinking about what impact the unfilled teacher vacancies in their schools will have on the progress of the new pupil intake.
Attracting and retaining good teachers is rapidly becoming one of the greatest challenges a headteacher can face – and the situation is exacerbated by a diminishing pool of candidates.
So, what is it that’s most important to teachers when they’re looking to move jobs? And what can schools do to increase their chances of finding the right staff?
A survey of teachers recently conducted by Affinity Workforce highlighted some interesting insights into the key issues that are most often at the forefront of teachers’ minds when they are planning their next career move or thinking about joining a new school.
According to 95% of teachers questioned, the reputation of the school as a good employer was the most important factor when they were choosing where they wanted to work. High-performance aspirations and the leadership of a school were each cited by 94% of teachers as important to them too.
So a school could look at raising its profile in these areas, showcasing the success of its leadership team or promoting the benefits of its staff CPD programme more widely, for example.
Putting more detailed information onto the website about the career development opportunities teachers at the school benefit from is one way to do this. Or there could be a dedicated area online detailing the succession planning measures the school has put in place to support staff who are looking to progress into leadership roles.
Actively promoting the achievement of staff as well as pupils on social media channels can be a great way for schools to reach teachers too. And a targeted marketing campaign designed to highlight a school’s strengths in relation to CPD could really help it to stand out in a crowded market.
The insight schools can gain from data is crucial for getting a clear picture of staffing gaps and supply costs, but the survey results suggest that in many schools and MATs more could be done to inform decision making.
More than half of schools stated that they do not regularly review teacher supply costs. This is a key area where money could potentially be saved for schools – costs that could be redirected into delivering greater consistency of teaching in the classroom.
One trust I know is taking a long-term approach to teacher recruitment by building up a pool of supply teachers they can draw from who know the school, it’s policies and culture. A little forward planning can result in a more efficient way of getting good teachers into classrooms, when they are needed, saving time, effort and resources.
The teacher recruitment crisis is unlikely to ease any time soon, so schools need to become much savvier when it comes to attracting and retaining the staff they need.
Understanding what teachers look for in a school when they are ready to move on can really help to put the fire behind a recruitment campaign. And by taking a more strategic approach to staffing, schools can focus their efforts on delivering the consistent, quality teaching that inspires children and drives progress.
Mike Ruddle, a director at specialist recruiters Affinity Workforce, is looking at alternatives ways of addressing the skills shortage in education.
* The full report Resourcing the Performance Agenda in Schools and Multi-Academy Trusts can be seen here.