Challenges of recruiting senior members of staff

Reflection – Primary School

What was the issue addressed?
Sometimes there are very few applicants for more senior posts e.g. deputy head. It begs the question, why? Are senior positions seen as stressful, underpaid? It makes it quite difficult when there is a very small field to choose from.

What happened?
We had no choice but to interview a very small number of shortlisted candidates. The local advisor was very helpful and supported us through the process. The head was also excellent in visiting the candidates’ schools, seeing them at work and in providing us with full information. In the end, we found an excellent candidate and he was appointed.

What lessons were learnt?
Perhaps, the deadlines, time frames for interviews like this can be relaxed somewhat to allow a school to ensure that it has a wide field of candidates.

It is sometimes difficult to recruit a senior leader post, particularly that of headteacher. The number of applications for these posts can in some cases be significantly low. The school’s Challenge Adviser or relevant Local Authority officers will play a key part in assisting governors with the recruitment process.

There are timescales for the appointment process due to resignation deadlines for staff at their current schools, if they were successful is securing a position at another school. Information about this is detailed in The Burgundy Book.

Headteachers need to give the following notice:
30 September to end contract on 31 December
31 January to end contract by 30 April
30 April to end contract by 31 August

All other teachers need to give the following notice:
31 October to end contract on 31 December
28 February to end contract by 30 April
31 May to end contract by 31 August

If these timescales were not adhered to, the school may be faced with a longer period without the senior member of staff in place, however, the timescales for the appointment process is a decision that the governing body makes. That said, staff leaving times can sometimes be negotiated with the governing body of their own school.

Writing the advert and job specification for the role is crucial to attract good candidates, as well as preparing the application pack which should contain contextual information about the school and its vision.

Governors Cymru Services has a guide on the appointment of headteachers and deputy headteachers which includes information on the advert, the job specification and the application pack.

Has your school encountered problems recruiting senior members of staff?
What things do you think could help improve the recruitment process for senior members of staff?

Have your say…
Have you had experiences similar to these?
What do you think about the situation described?

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Sam MacNamara – 07943 887275 / Jane Morris – 07957 969708