HR and Staff Wellbeing

Working together to transform the school recruitment landscape

Andy Buck, a former director at the National College for School Leadership and author of Leadership Matters, talks about the opportunities and challenges of the government's new Teaching Vacancies Service

Sponsored by The DfE

The pandemic meant lots of people’s lives – professional and personal – were thrown up in the air. However, teachers cannot continue to put their lives and careers on hold. With many people navigating lockdown, many teachers understandably didn’t feel it was a time to search for a new job. With the academic year in full swing, I’m seeing the education community beginning to look for new roles and job opportunities.

With new teaching practices in place post-lockdown, now is the time for the teaching sector to rethink how we look for job and hire new staff. Recruitment is of course a big issue for headteachers but I was shocked to learn that state-funded schools are spending a staggering £50 – £75 million a year on advertising for teaching staff.

I don’t think we need to do that anymore. Just think what a sum of money of that size could do for children and for existing staff.  When you think of how teachers have been cutting back, when you consider staffing reductions and how School Business Managers have been looking for the very best deals on everything from energy to water to printing costs, why on earth would the sector willingly spend tens of millions of pounds on staff advertising?

Fortunately, following discussions with schools, the government created a very good teacher vacancy website!  Teaching Vacancies offers a reassuringly straightforward, free approach to advertising and applying for jobs.

Now this is the moment when we can all get involved. Teachers looking for a new post need to make this their first port of call. Leaders need to step up and put all their jobs on there so that teachers, and in particular NQTs looking for their first jobs in September, know they can go there and any job being advertised anywhere else will certainly be on this website too.

With features such as these, schools no longer need to be tied into an expensive annual recruitment package and that means that if they commit to using Teaching Vacancies, some head teachers could see immediate savings of up to £8,000 and higher a year. One Head I spoke with said before using Teaching Vacancies they spent around £16,000 annually on recruitment. Since switching to the service, they have cut their annual recruitment budget down significantly to just £2,000 per year.

Schools are delighted at the prospect. One headteacher told me that recruitment can feel like an arms race: ‘Schools are competing with other schools,’ he said, ‘but every time they advertise, they are taking money out of the budget that could be spent on something more important such as professional development, curriculum resources or books. As Teaching Vacancies is a national service, it means schools can  advertise roles for free, and give themselves a strong chance of filling the role quickly and with top teaching talent by being exposed to a nationwide pool of job-seeking teachers.’

We know the service works. I was talking to a primary head recently who had been looking to appoint a senior teacher. She decided to use  Teaching Vacancies  and nothing else, to see what the results were like.

This headteacher appointed a fantastic teacher and was very excited when she realised that it had cost her absolutely nothing.

For me, there are five top reasons to use Teaching Vacancies:

1 Teaching Vacancies puts you in control

You can upload your advert without paying a single penny and  still retain the freedom to edit the text if needed.. This is ideal. If you need to change some of the details at the last minute or maybe one of your governors thinks the advert does not say enough about the strengths of your school or you spot a typo just after you have posted the vacancy online – as does happen occasionally, you can make the changes you need.

The biggest surprise is that we have managed for so long without this free centralised service.

2 Teaching Vacancies will save schools time as well as money

Instead of paying potentially £1,000 for an advert, schools can post their vacancy totally free of charge. Already most schools in England are using it to advertise vacancies, with every school in Cambridgeshire signed up.

This free service seems to be changing the way some schools approach recruitment. The service now offers a document upload feature to include application forms and job descriptions, reducing the time needed to upload a job advert by around 20%.There is also no need for schools to worry over when to post an advert to catch teachers who are looking to move jobs, as job-seeking teachers can sign up for job alerts. Schools won’t need to prioritise jobs to be advertised. They can post as many times as they want, for free, and it will send the job straight to the inboxes of candidates who are actively looking for that level of job or that location.

Since the service is free, some schools may choose to advertise some jobs early and advertise often instead of bunching all their jobs together to try and save money with paid-for advertising services.

3 Teaching Vacancies has a massive reach

Your vacancy will be seen by more people. The service uses open data to list vacancies, so they are picked up and displayed through different search engines. But beyond that, the site also benefits from the centrally funded Government recruitment campaigns which are usually timed to coincide with peak teacher recruitment periods.

This means that a school’s teaching vacancies will receive maximum publicity and will be seen by as many candidates as possible.

4 Teaching Vacancies is an excellent solution for candidates too

Job-seeking teachers can go to just one site to find information about the vacancies that match their skills and experience. They can specify location, job title, sector, different working patterns, and NQT suitability.  Job seekers can also receive job alerts. Basically, if a job matches their profile, it will appear in their inbox. More and more jobseekers are signing up to these alerts so they don’t miss out on their perfect job.

5 The Teaching Vacancies site is safe and secure

It has been tested and trialled with schools and jobseekers, prior to full national launch in April 2019. Details will not be misused or sold on to affiliated companies.

The site is also an accurate reflection of available posts. Every job advertised on Teaching Vacancies is a real job, placed by a real school and not just a phishing expedition from a recruitment agency.

From the evidence so far, Teaching Vacancies is breaking the mould but for it to be really successful, there needs to be a drive from leadership to give it the seal of approval and get it firmly embedded in recruitment processes.  The DfE is always keen to hear user feedback to help shape product developments. Once a listing ends, schools have the option to share comments and suggestions on the service.

Try out Teaching Vacancies for your next teaching advert and see how you can make significant savings, without missing out on the very best teachers: https://bit.ly/3aaXToE

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