Breaking the Rules: Values-Led Recruitment

As a Headteacher of a brand new school, with a small budget, I have consciously tried to innovate through my recruitment strategy. I find it quite staggering how much money schools spend on adverts in the Edupress. I have seen many schools and MATs in my career go straight to expensive national adverts when there are candidates locally and regionally who could be engaged in a different, less expensive way.

So when I was appointed as Headteacher I pledged to do things differently regarding how I recruited. Below I have shared some of my recruitment and marketing strategies.

Strategy 1:

Growing a following of educators who were interested in the journey of creating a school from scratch:

  1. 1. Hopeful Headteacher blog – I started blogging about my vision and values as soon as I was appointed via @staffrm and then moved across to setting up this blog – the idea was that I would create a following of educators who were aligned to my vision and values
  2. 2. I set up a school twitter account @AureusSchool and trust hashtag #growlearnflourish and started connecting with the local community – as above, this was about drip feeding vision and values
  3. 3. LinkedIn – I am connected to a lot of educators so I shared the above on this platform too as it is easier to search by geographical groups or by roles/ subjects – I connected with teachers locally who taught the subjects I needed and anticipated who would be looking for promotion (I think this is how I found my STEM AHT)
  4. 4. Informal Networking – I go to a lot of events – I consciously went to speak to people I didn’t know and made new connections (this is how I found my computing LP – in a library at #Teach2017)
  5. 5. Formal Events – I went to the university ITT recruitment fairs (this is how I recruited our 2 NQTs)
  6. 6. Communities – I engage with the educators who are connected to #womened and #bameed – so I am connected to existing and aspiring leaders who are ambitious, dynamic but who are also looking to challenge the system and affect change (I recruited 2 of my DHTs and 1 of my AHTs from these networks)
  7. 7. Word of Mouth – we forget how powerful this is as a communication tool (the STEM AHT told a colleague about our school and she is now our Art LP)
  8. 8. Whatsapp and Facebook – I know a lot of teachers so I used my soft networks of friends of friends of friends to share opportunities too (this is how I met my Maths Mastery teacher)


Strategy 2:

With Well-being, Diversity and Equality as core values in my leadership and in the school vision I wanted to emphasise them in the recruitment process.  In all of adverts, job descriptions and person specifications I made this explicit. I promoted the fact I was an inclusive leader and was seeking to create a school where we can be teachers and have a life, where staff will be valued, where the people in the building will be names and not numbers.  I pledged to model the #womened and #bameed values and recruit diverse leaders, offering flexible roles from the outset, not just to retain great staff (we have appointed 3 flexible leaders and our SLT are 60% female and 60% BAME).

Strategy 3:

‘Open Events’ were a key part of the relationship building with my prospective team. I know how much time and energy it takes researching, applying, planning and preparing for interviews. Teaching is full on and the timings are key regarding when we market and recruit. I chose to lead with face-to-face open events. I had EOIs (we had 115) on our website where everyone was directed to register – we then invited them all to come and meet me. So on a Saturday afternoon (in our generous neighbouring school) I presented my vision and value of the school to interested parties (about 70 came) and explained who I was looking for to join my on the journey. This enabled applicants (45 applied for 10 roles) to go away and decide if they were aligned or not, or if they ultimately wanted to work with me or not. I then published the opportunities available.

Strategy 4:

Focusing on the souls not the roles, I created an open recruitment window. I didn’t advertise formally. All adverts went out a week before half-term and gave applicants half-term to process and apply. I didn’t detail the posts I was looking for, I instead emphasised the type of people I wanted to recruit. Applicants could build their own jobs from the outline of which subjects we needed, which positions we could create, which contracts we could offer. This gave those interested a clean sheet to design their own role. This values-led recruitment process was liberating for all involved. How many times in your career have you been asked to define your own role and shape your own career?

Strategy 5:

The recruitment process thus culminated in a values-led selection process. Each task provided an opportunity for the applicants to shine, to demonstrate their skill set, to show their potential and to develop relationships with their potential colleagues as our team evolved. With no staff, students, parents nor building to use, our neighbouring feeder school hosted us and we held interviews for 5 days back to back. We interviewed NQTs one day, Teachers another, aspiring LPs another day and Senior Leaders the last 2 days. Everyone understood that the process was about finding the right team so offers would be made at the start of the following week in the reverse order: Senior Leaders, Aspiring LPs, Teachers and NQTs because I only needed 1 teacher from each subject so this would eliminate people despite their performance. The reassurance was that we would consider making offers for the following year, which we did and we have 2 LPs joining us in 2018 who are part of our extended team from 2017.

The interview tasks are detailed below to show we created opportunities based on our GLF trust values of Grow, Learn and Flourish:

Task 1:  GROW (written task – individual)

  • Curriculum planning – outline your vision for your primary subject
  • Include core knowledge and key skills
  • What will success look like for your Year 7s at the end of the autumn, spring & summer term?

→Outcome – evidence of curriculum knowledge

Task 2: LEARN (5 min presentation – group)

  • #teachmeet for days 1-3 – 5 min micro presentation on 1 strategy you have used for differentiation or assessment for learning and the impact it has had on your learners
  • #leadmeet for days 4/5 – 5 min micro presentation on 1 leadership theory, model or piece of reading you have explored reflecting on how it has shaped you as a leader

→Outcome – evidence of subject knowledge & teaching practice

Task 3: FLOURISH (discussion – group)

  • Group discussion on how to build resilience in our students

→Outcome – evidence of values & learning knowledge

Task 4: NURTURING HEARTS AND MINDS (micro-teaching – individual)

  • Micro-teaching – plan and deliver an 8 minute starter to engage your learners in their 1st lesson with you in September (this focus and brief varied by group of candidates to increase the challenge and see QFT from aspiring LPs)

→Outcome – evidence of subject knowledge & teaching practice

Task 5: PORTFOLIO OF EVIDENCE (1:1 with one of our Governors – individual)

A record of your teaching highlights, to include examples of:

  • Resources
  • Marking
  • Feedback
  • Results

→Outcome – evidence of professional impact & commitment

Task 6: NURTURING HEARTS AND MINDS (written task – individual)

  • Extra-curricular offer – outline your vision for how you could contribute to the wider community
  • What enrichment activities and trips could you offer?
  • How would these activities engage and nurture the learners?

→Outcome – evidence of community ethos & whole child development

TASK 7: PANEL INTERVIEW (with GLF representatives and Headteacher – individual)

  • Why? Vision…Values…
  • How? Flexibility…Cross-Curricular…Impact…
  • What? Career plans…

→Outcome – evidence of fit for Aureus & GLF


Each task was the same length and had the same weighting – they gave us a holistic overview of each candidate. The candidates also had a tour of the construction site so they could see where they might end up working. On some days we had 8 candidates, so I had to explain that we would shortlist at lunchtime and send some applicants home – this was probably the hardest bit!

I honestly found the whole recruitment process exhilarating and a really pleasurable experience as I met a phenomenal group of educators. The whole recruitment team from GLF and our Governors were incredibly impressed by the high calibre candidates we had the privilege of interviewing. I spent a lot of time considering my values, my vision and how this becomes our values and our vision. The #teachmeet component for teachers and the #leadmeet component for leaders meant that I also learnt a lot. Moreover, the candidates bonded and a team began to evolve. I cannot recommend breaking the rules and doing things differently, authentic to your leadership style enough.

Originally published on The Hopeful Headteacher blog.


View comments (1)
Heather De Blasio
2 Jun 2017 / 03:06

This is inspirational, Hannah. Recruitment and selection is so important -and especially so, given that you are starting this school from scratch. I am deeply impressed with the way you have been so intentional in ensuring that the whole process is aligned with the values which will underpin everything about your school as it grows. And so many different stages, so carefully designed, to gather that wholistic picture of the people who will be able to share and help realise the vision of the school! So many ideas that I can see us applying here in our context to strengthen the way we make our decisions moving forward.
Thank you!

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