Three steps to a long-term recruitment strategy


In this article Jemma Ive focuses on the three steps school leaders can take to support an effective short and long-term recruitment strategy

Unsurprisingly, many educators are reporting high levels of stress and fatigue. The pandemic is causing added stress, and pinches in recruitment. However, with some planning, you can identify potential issues in future staff provision. What’s more, you can do so without drastically adding to your current workload.


Survey your staff. Find out how they’re feeling, and their concerns for the coming months. You could use a simple online survey tool with some incisive questions. Parents, part-time staff and pupils will also provide valuable insights which may help you to retain staff and maintain stability. Parents of children with SEN may identify specific support needs, which may be a great way to utilise support staff. Support staff may also be well placed to be upskilled to fill a short-term absence of a teacher.

Analyse absence patterns and vacancies. This information can enable you to predict where and when you might have a shortfall of available staff, especially if you need specialists in a particular SEN area. Try to be objective: are any of your team members vulnerable and likely to need to isolate? Being prepared for quarantine cover in advance; prepare a backup or supply staff colleague who is experienced in the SEN area you require. Imagine the peace of mind knowing that you have an experienced PECs facilitator on board. Also, take a look at vacancy information in your area. What year group specialisms or support roles are most in demand? Are there opportunities for staff sharing or recruitment collaboration with other local schools?

Identify your priorities for pupil support. Nurture the people you connect with, for example by retaining them long-term in your extended workforce. Build a pool of extended staff to cover workforce gaps without a separate recruitment drive.


Identify your known, possible and unknown future staffing requirements. Focus on the possible scenarios. Assign them weighted scores. A dedicated staff management/workforce planning/HR tool is best but if you don’t have one, a spreadsheet is fine. Ask your Academy group or Local Authority for support on mapping out these connections. They will have a broad view of pinch points in the area, and the available services.

Try not to plan alone. Think about the area you are based in. Is it an area which struggles with teacher attraction? Shortlist the third party resourcing and recruitment services you might consider engaging with, even if you haven’t been involved with them before. Reaching out for support in good time will help you secure a better deal if you have to pay for commercial recruitment services. If you are using this approach, consider your third-party supplier relationships and ask the questions any commercial buyer should be asking: How have your relationships with recruitment service providers changed during the past year? How do I ensure that the service and resources I receive are good value for money? How will I measure the performance of this supplier?

If your chosen approach is to build a talent pipeline, how will you manage this pipeline and keep candidates engaged, especially if it turns out you don’t have an immediate need?

You don’t want to waste your talent attraction efforts!

Start building a brand for your school. Engage others on social media, and publish regular updates on your school website. This may help attract talent over the long term. A quick post about your staffing requirements can yield multiple offers of support very quickly, Sometimes you just need to ask the question!


You can’t plan for every recruitment need, but you can be ready. Try to have a couple of reserves for every possible vacancy. This is tricky for staff with specific SEN experience, but keep the reserves you do have, warm. Keep in contact with candidates you interviewed but didn’t recruit. Prepare evocative marketing, including a mobile-optimised careers page on your website. Nurture your talent and be responsive to their needs. Flexible working models may be easier to organise than you think, and can both attract and retain staff. As part of your long-term strategy, consider how you will attract and retain teachers and support staff. Consider building a talent pipeline and ecosystem, to maximise your access to great staff throughout the whole employee life cycle. Try not to become fixated on just the immediate need. Be sure to gain feedback from candidates about the application process – was it easy?

How could it be improved? If the first impression is that the process was a negative experience, address this quickly.

Finally, be open, and prepare your departmental staff for the potential pinch points you’ve identified. Include your colleagues in the execution of your plan and empower your team to actively contribute to it. You don’t have to do everything yourself – good delegation is a hallmark of good leadership.

Jemma Ive
Author: Jemma Ive

Jemma Ive
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Jemma Ive is a former SEN teacher. At Teacher Booker she helps connect SEN schools with teachers and support staff.

Teacher Booker offers a range of services to help schools and teachers through this challenging time providing impartial, confidential advice and practical solutions. For more information visit Follow Teacher Booker on Twitter and Facebook: @teacherbooker or email 



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