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The teaching profession is currently suffering from a double whammy of increased workload and high levels of stress. Not surprisingly this is having a disastrous effect across the whole of education, but most markedly on teachers.
Now, you might be thinking workload is a universal problem and that each school will suffer equal amounts of stress from it. But as a recruiter, with visibility across the whole of the UK, we can see Head-teachers approach the common problems in a range of different ways. Resulting in completely different outcomes, which I’ll explore further on.
First, a quick refresher course regarding the problems and their effects. Each school can put a tick or a cross under these headings:
The effect this is having on teachers and schools is growing from being a localised issue into a chronic problem for education. Reports from insurance companies, covering schools for teacher absence, state stress-related illness is second only to maternity leave for teacher absence. And the latest YouGov survey reports that over half the teachers surveyed intend to leave the profession in the next two years.
The turnover of staff at schools is growing, with the average tenure at a school reducing from three years to two years. Replacing the teachers is becoming harder because fewer teachers are willing to take on full-time roles; opting instead for part-time roles. This problem is particularly acute amongst returning mothers who need a degree of flexibility to juggle two ‘jobs’.
Also, the supply of newly qualified teachers replenishing the teacher stock is not keeping up with demand.
The difficulty of attracting and keeping teachers costs schools in two ways. First, the reliance on supply teachers is increasing the wage bill, with some schools spending £1/2 million on agencies and supply teachers.
Secondly, the constant rehiring of staff is taking up Head-teachers time, and their costs are growing with recruitment agencies (yes, that’s great for recruiters but some of us want to help).
A consequence of teachers having less time is their reliance on recruitment consultants. Why trawl through the TES when you can request your own ‘career-butler’ free of charge to look for jobs for you. This results in schools wasting time and money on adverts being placed in the TES that are not being read because teachers are too busy.
OK, so far so gloomy. The problems I’ve listed above are complex and many people are wrestling with them, so how can a humble recruitment manager contribute to the debate?
Well, through the numerous conversations we have while recruiting, we build a unique picture of schools and their success in attracting and keeping teachers. One of our clients, based in east London, has a remarkably good record. They have all the same problems and issues a modern, urban school faces, but they have approached them differently.
The leadership of this school has played a long game. They have responded to Govt targets, difficult Ofsted reports, and the teacher skills shortage by working together with their teachers to build a gradual but effective schedule of change. In other words, the leadership didn’t panic and create a stressful culture when things got difficult.
The Head-teacher and SLTs worked with teachers to maintain school standards. Styles of leadership were used to motivate teachers – not to undermine and demoralise them. In addition, the leadership approached work/life balance and developed a working group to reduce low-value admin. The workload is still too high but teachers can see progress being made.
The culture this approach has created is supportive, and teachers go out of their way to help each other. The Head-master champions work/life balance in words and actions – the school is locked up by 5.30 each evening. A bold and concrete example I know resonates with the teachers who are proud to work there.
At Academics, we’ve been privileged to also build long-term relationships with this successful school. The depth of our relationship allows us to recruit well because we know the culture, and the Head-teacher takes the time to brief us comprehensively. The result: we send them great teachers that match their school and job descriptions.
Each teacher offered a job at this school always gives my team glowing reports and thanks us for placing them there.
If you are looking for a change and want to move to a school with a healthier culture then upload your CV today and see what we can do.