Recruitment: Selling your school

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

Recruitment season can be a tough time for secondary schools, which need to really stand out in a competitive market. Imogen Rowley outlines how to refresh the way you advertise

Analyse previous recruitment rounds

Take inspiration from businesses and put some time into analysing and improving your recruitment processes. Ask your support or HR staff to analyse your previous recruitment rounds.

Draw up lists of the common factors in your most and least successful recruitment rounds. Use this evidence to work out what you need to change, what you should do more of, and what new strategies you could try.

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 are 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 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.

Offer unique perks

Secondaries often have more flexibility than primaries to offer bigger salaries and perks to candidates. Incentives don’t have to be financial – for example, some schools:

  • Allow staff to use their specialist facilities, such as gym or media equipment.
  • Offer excellent professional development opportunities, such as secondments or extensive CPD programmes.
  • Run social activities, like staff sports teams, quiz nights or choirs.

Advertise in the right places

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

  • Your own website.
  • National general recruitment websites or education-specific recruitment websites.
  • Local authority websites and 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, use social media. 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.
  • Imogen Rowley is a lead content editor at The Key, which provides leadership and management support to schools.


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