Lessons from the recruitment front line

Staffing is the biggest expense in running a school and our teachers are our most important resource.  It has been well-documented that there is currently a recruitment and retention crisis in schools so getting the right team in place has been my number one priority to ensure that The Swan gets off to the very best staff.  That is why so much of my time has been consumed over the last few months has been spent sharing information about the project with colleagues and selecting the best people for our team. Having now spent over 50 hours shortlisting and interviewing candidates, I feel I am now very well placed to share some insights from the recruitment front line.

There are talented colleagues out there

There may be a national shortage of teachers but we have been blown away by the quantity and quality of applications, from the local area and beyond, that we have received for all of our available roles.  Teachers are genuinely excited about the chance to start a school from scratch and build the foundations of a truly exceptional school.

Values alignment is fundamental

Interview days for middle and senior leadership roles in schools are extremely rigorous – these are extremely important positions so we need to make sure that we test how applicants would approach all aspects of the role.  But despite the number of different activities we ask candidates to complete, the most important criterion for selection will always be alignment to the school’s values. Anyone who comes to work with us must fundamentally believe that all children can achieve, and in the dual importance of academic rigour and personal development.  We can develop other skills, but we can’t change someone’s values!

Interviewing is a two way process

However, it is just as important for candidates to get to know the school’s ethos and culture, as well as the people they will be working with.  This is an exciting opportunity but will be hard work and we will have the very highest expectations of staff.  Not everyone will buy into The Swan’s approach. We make it very clear to any potential staff what we stand for so they can choose whether this school is the right one for them.  If someone doesn’t feel that they would ‘fit’, I would much rather they tell us before it is too late!