Recruitment: Selling your school

Written by: Imogen Rowley | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Primary schools with 200 to 600 pupils are the most common school type in England, making for a crowded recruitment market. Imogen Rowley outlines how you can refresh the way you advertise this year and ensure your school stands out

Make your job advert compelling

Your job advert is often the first encounter applicants will have with your school, so it needs to be informative, engaging and a good reflection of what you’re about. In the advert (as much as the format allows), always include:

  • The basic information about the job.
  • A high-quality picture of your school looking its best, and logo.
  • Your school’s ethos, culture and values.

Highlight your school’s unique features

Make a list of 10 selling points about your school and craft your advert around these. These may be obvious, but also consider your location, demographic and what this means, links with other schools, organisations, the community, and provision for pupils with different needs.

Your selling points might also not be your “best” features. Be honest – if your school is underperforming, explain up-front that you are on a school improvement journey. You will then only get applicants who are ready for the challenge, which will benefit you in the long run.

Counter-intuitively, perhaps, don’t focus on your “outstanding” Ofsted rating if you have one. This won’t tell applicants what it is like to work in your school, or appeal to their desire to make a difference to children’s lives, or show how they are going to be supported to develop their career.

Advertise in the right places

There are a lot of places you could advertise depending on your budget and who you are trying to reach.

  • Your own website, national general recruitment websites, education-specific recruitment websites, local authority websites.
  • Local papers.
  • Social media.
  • Subject associations.
  • Via word of mouth (ask staff to share the vacancy and refer candidates).

Consider who your advert is aimed at

You will reach different types of people depending on where you advertise. The general (unscientific) picture is:

  • Younger teachers tend to use recruitment websites, social media and local authority websites – so go online if you are looking for a less experienced teacher and you have a smaller budget.
  • Teachers in the 34 to 50 age bracket are likely to use more traditional methods like education recruitment sites, or to be signed up with recruitment agencies.
  • Experienced teachers over 50 are not usually looking to move job, so are often head-hunted or find vacancies through established peer networks and referrals.

Have a recruitment mindset all year round

Consider the timing of your advertising. Most schools advertise during the spring term, but doing so is only adding to an already crowded market. You could actively promote your school’s message and selling points in front of potential applicants all year round – partly by improving your school website and digital presence.

Improve your online presence

First, update your school website. Candidates will research your school to find out as much information as they can before deciding to apply. Help them do so by updating your school website, taking the chance to put across the best things about your school. Top tips for your website include:

  • Make sure it works properly and is engaging and easy-to-use (including on phones and tablets).
  • Fill it with attractive photos of your school and surrounding area.
  • Set up a permanent “working here” page on your website – like other employers do – selling your school as an employer and place to work.

Second, social media is very popular with teachers, but schools don’t yet tend to use it much for recruitment. However, it can help you because:

  • There are many groups and forums where teachers talk and share ideas – you can post vacancies in front of large, tailored audiences.
  • Candidates can get a day-by-day sense of school life through a well-maintained Facebook page or Twitter account – use it to highlight your school’s best bits
  • It is free to use and can save you money.

Smooth out the application process

The application process is as much for you to sell yourself to potential candidates as it is for candidates to demonstrate their suitability to you. You want to make a good impression and you don’t want candidates telling their peers about a stressful or unprofessional experience.

Avoid making all applicants fill in an unnecessarily long application form, as this will be time-consuming and may put people off. It can also frustrate candidates who don’t get any further – meaning they might not want to apply again in the future.

Make sure your website is logical and simple to navigate, and that it is easy to find the job advert and description and to apply. 


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