23 Feb 2022


"Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet."
Rudyard Kipling, Barrack-room Ballads

As someone who spent a fair bit of time early in my career working for a number of recruitment companies, and now works full time in the education sector, I regularly feel the sentiment expressed by Kipling above. 

I feel it when I see school recruitment conferences like this one or this one that have no speakers from outside the education profession (please feel free to share with me any that do feature non-education recruitment experts). 

I feel it when I see job adverts that have obviously been recycled for years with no attempt to acknowledge the current teacher recruitment crisis like this one and this one. (Both were selected from the first few pages of TES adverts today!)

And I also feel it when I see the education press demonising recruitment agencies for doing what, after all, is their job - matching hard-to-reach job seekers with the right job for them in a highly competitive market. (Like this - 'Schools paying out up to £11,000 in 'exorbitant finder's fees' to agencies to recruit teachers').

This lack of dialogue means that schools spend ages trying to 'reinvent the wheel', coming up with ideas that are commonplace in the wider world, while mistrusting any advice offered from outside the profession and not addressing the huge 'elephants in the room' such as lack of talent banking, employer branding or flexible recruitment processes. 

In the worst case, supposed experts on recruitment are allowed to propagate bizarre and damaging views - such as the idea that 'part time work is wrong and immoral' - yet be invited back to the next round of events. 

A few suggestions for schools...

1) Take a look at how major graduate employers (such as top accountancy or law firms or engineering companies) attract graduates by selling the opportunities in their professions. You might be able to find out more by talking to parents, governors or recent alumni who work for them. 

2) Take responsibility for your school recruitment communications and channels away from the Head's PA or the HR department and give it to your marketing team or make up your own from a creative English teacher and the most recent NQT you've hired (they will know the recruitment market and be able to write persuasively!) And if you can, send them on a creative copywriting course.

3) Talk to a range of recruitment companies in a grown up way. Yes, they are commercial organisations and they want to make money, but good ones will also want to develop relationships and will give you lots of ideas for streamlining your processes. But if you wait until you have a recruitment crisis or just talk to one, they will cost you a lot! 

4) Go to general graduate recruitment conferences that aren't just for schools. They might be a bit more expensive, but you'll be able to stand out from the crowd, which is essential in recruitment (check out this one for example). 

5) Set up a LinkedIn account (that's where most recruiters hang out) and follow people outside the education industry like Mitch Sullivan (with apologies for his occasional bad language) and James Reed. 

PS My book 'Recruiting Teachers'  will be out later this year and will contain many more ideas for your school from the world outside education!