It’s unlikely that anyone, anywhere, could associate the phrase ‘breathing space’ with education and schools over the last year or so! However, one area that has experienced a period of relative calm is recruitment. The pandemic had seen applications to teaching posts rise and given teacher retention a boost. Indeed, NFER research in 2020 found that the proportion of teachers considering leaving in July last year had dropped by around half compared to in June 2019. However, new and emerging data tells us that this is likely to change. Fast!
After months of instability brought about by the pandemic, trusts and schools everywhere will need their teams of dedicated, talented and experienced staff to help navigate a new phase – bringing deep expertise and stability. As well as addressing ‘lost learning’ and securing wellbeing, trusts and schools will depend on talented leaders and teachers to continue to develop and refine online learning as we navigate the bumpy road towards the end of this pandemic.
New analysis this week by School Leaders’ Work and Well Being has found that two fifths of leaders say they plan to leave the profession early, that is for reasons other than full retirement, within the next five years. When these responses are broken down, leaders who have been in the profession the longest (i.e. 26 years or more) are most likely to say they will leave early; and leaders in executive headship (46%), headship (46%) and school business roles (39%) are significantly more likely to say they will leave early than either deputy (26%) or assistant heads (20%). Meanwhile recent analysis by the Education Policy Institute has indicated that many more teachers now plan to quit the profession than before Covid-19 struck
So there is clearly a new recruitment and retention challenge brewing for the schools’ system. Strategic and thoughtful trust boards and executives will want to be forearmed – looking at this from all angles. We need to understand what it is that will ensure people stay with our organisations, and what it is that will ensure that new, talented employees will come to join us. For us at Satis Education – as a sector-leading recruitment organisation – being clear about emerging trends around employee expectations is crucial. This is about so much more than placing a generic ad or publishing an ‘off the shelf’ application pack – recruiting the best depends on insight, expertise and thoughtful planning.
We know that the most attractive thing about any organisation is its sense of purpose and commitment to its communities. This is reinforced by new research tells us that there is a growing expectation amongst employees that their organisations should be acting responsibly with regard to environmental and social issues. Research from Total Jobs from just before the pandemic indication that a quarter (26%) of workers would be willing to take a pay cut to work for a company working towards protecting the environment. This attitude is certainly being driven by millennials (so-called ‘generation Y’) with 40% of 23 to 28-year-olds having chosen a job because the company had a better sustainability score and with 70 per cent of millennials saying they would stay with a company with a robust sustainability plan. It is essential that trusts and schools demonstrate a deep commitment across areas such as sustainability, diversity and community cohesion if they are to recruit top talent going forwards.
And then there are the employee experiences that increasingly matter so much. According to new research from Drewberry staff satisfaction survey of small- to medium- sized businesses, employees are now seeking a range of benefits from their current or future employers, with 51.1% of workers saying they would like to see their company introduce benefits that help them manage their health and wellbeing; 46.4% wanting their employer to offer benefits that help train or educate them in line with their career goals; 46.2% wanting flexible hours; and 30.5% seeking some element of home working.
How committed is your trust and school to flexible working, workload mitigation through networking and sharing of resources across schools, providing some opportunities for remote working and professional development, and access to high quality CPD? These are all areas that trusts not only need to be articulating in their recruitment materials and processes, but living out, day by day.
At Satis Education, we are ready for the challenge, and always ready to support trusts and schools to ensure they attract and recruit the very best employees possible. The world has changed, employees’ expectations have shifted rapidly, and the best trusts will access the advice and support necessary to ensure a recruitment process that is fit for purpose in this new era. Our ongoing research and awareness of these key dynamics will ensure you are well supported and prepared. With the right leaders and teachers on the bus, the next – defining – stage for our education system will not only be less fraught, it will also be a time of huge opportunity for our children and young people.
Helen Stevenson is Director of Satis Education – a sector-leading executive recruitment agency.
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