1. Offer training placements
Many SEND schools now offer placements to teacher trainees (something that was rare in the past). They have seen that a good trainee will often stay on once they qualify, if they are offered an attractive position. SEND roles carry additional points on the pay scales, so for struggling graduates who have huge debts to pay off, this can really help. However, it does also mean that the school must be able to run an Induction programme. Academies are in a good position here, because they can work with other schools in multi-academy trusts to provide additional settings which can be required to pass all the criteria to gain full qualified teacher status.
2. Use social media
A lot of schools are recognising how social media can benefit their recruitment efforts. It’s more about spreading awareness than directly advertising jobs (although of course that’s a good idea, too). But social media strategies take time. Schools need to build themselves an audience and a reputation. But if they do that, teachers come knocking for jobs – schools do not even necessarily have to advertise. Building an online reputation can come by asking staff to write articles or share resources – or even nominating peers for awards in the sector. Being a well-known and respected school can really make a difference when you need to hire new staff!
3. Look further afield
There is no getting away from the fact that we do not have enough teachers to fill our vacancies and staff need to come from somewhere to plug this gap. Many schools and recruitment companies are doing this by visiting careers fairs overseas. There are English speaking countries such as Ireland and Canada, who have an over-staffed profession, so it makes perfect sense to attract staff to work in our schools. However, this recruitment method can be time consuming, expensive and will also involve a degree of additional training to bring staff up to speed with our curriculum. However, many schools feel that it is worth it, and they get some real gems from this recruitment method
4. Investigate mainstream to SEND transition
With up to 50% of the teachers currently in post planning to leave the sector in the next decade, where will they go? How many would consider special needs as a viable alternative to leaving the profession altogether? We have been offering mainstream teachers additional support and training to try out special needs before deciding whether to abandon teaching altogether. This idea came from my very own experience of leaving the profession having only taught for 2 years in a mainstream school. I didn’t feel that teaching was for me. But if I had known more about the different teaching opportunities available in the SEND sector, I may well have stayed in the profession. So promoting this and offering support is certainly a viable part of a recruitment strategy.
5. Use UK teacher recruitment fairs
Not only should we be targeting overseas trained teachers, and experienced teachers who are disillusioned with the profession, but we should also be educating those fresh UK teaching graduates about the opportunities that working in SEND can bring. Some of the schools we work with are actively attending universities and giving talks about working in special needs. Others are setting up stands at university recruitment fairs – both are good options.
The fact that schools are prepared to do anything and everything to find the best possible staff for their students speaks volumes about the dedication and commitment to the SEND sector. Let’s hope that, with special needs now being a prescribed part of initial teacher training courses, schools will see more interest in careers in their settings, and recruitment into special schools will see a boost like never before.
Until then, these 5 ideas for finding SEND staff might help if you’re not using them already – and of course, there is always the option of giving us a call if you decide to go down the specialist agency route! And if you're wondering about SEND teaching yourself, please check out these 5 reasons to consider SEND teaching.