Dear Leicester teachers and leaders,

As we approach the end of the school year, I want to round up the Recruitment and Retention work that has been undertaken this year and summarise what I think it would be worth keeping an eye on next year.

Recruitment and retention remains a priority for all schools. However, there is anecdotal evidence that Leicester is weathering this storm fairly well. This may be due to a combination of high profile sporting success and royal remains, or it may be due to strong local leadership and good working conditions for Leicester teachers.  Despite being in a healthy position, recruitment and retention does need to remain high on the list of priorities for headteachers in the city.  This would be best co-ordinated by the schools themselves to ensure ownership and meaningful collaboration. 

As secondary schools will not be delegating funds to CTG next year, my recommendation is that the EIP has recruitment and retention as a standing agenda item for all meetings. It’s been a pleasure to meet and work with Anna White this year and I am really pleased that the secondary headteachers will be discussing recruitment and retention and any future initiatives in their meetings.  At Primary, I’m hoping to support one of the development groups to develop an action plan for next year. 

I have had three key methods of communicating with headteachers: 1, through updates to the Closing the Gap website / newsletter; 2, through the leaders of LPP and EIP and 3, via social media.  It is very difficult to gauge how effective these methods are.  Social media provides me with the most instant feedback, but the other two methods are reliant on headteachers reading the updates and the EIP/LPP being able to facilitate my requests in amongst their dense agendas. This is a great reason why future work on recruitment and retention should be held at EIP/LPP level and not coordinated by an external person (much as I have thoroughly enjoyed it!).

This year, all Leicester schools were directed towards the DfE’s workload reduction report (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/teacher-workload-advisory-group-report-and-government-response) and the workload reduction toolkit (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/reducing-workload-in-your-school). All schools were reminded that I was available to give advice and guidance with any issues relating to workload and well-being.  All schools were offered a free session on staff workload reduction, well-being and work-life balance.  All schools were sent information about Mindful Warriors and Edval timetables. Thank you to those of you got in touch, I hope the advice has been of use to you.

All schools were alerted to the work being done by Flexible Teacher Talent (https://flexibleteachertalent.co.uk/our-work) who were (and still are) keen to support Leicester schools with flexible working practices.  Equally, the MPTP (Maternity Paternity Teacher Project – http://www.mtpt.org.uk/) set up to support teachers on maternity and paternity leave to make the transition back to school smooth and sustainable, was promoted to all Leicester schools.  As a result, an MTPT coffee morning was held in the city on Friday 7th December and was attended by 10 Leicester teachers currently on maternity leave, and another one that took place a few weeks ago was attended by 8 teachers. Thanks to Kat Howard for hosting these.

I created a free staff wellbeing infographic which was distributed to Leicester schools via LPP/EIP, the CTG website and newsletter and via social media.  Please get in touch if you didn’t get it and I will send you one.

The DfE’s Recruitment and Retention Strategy, including proposals for Early Career Framework, was shared with Headteachers in the CTG website and newsletter. I also created a summary specifically for Leicester schools which was passed to Headteachers via EIP and LPP. It was also made available via the CTG website and newsletter. 

Many Leicester schools are now using the DfE’s new FREE teacher vacancy website. This information has been shared with headteachers via the CTG website/newsletter and via social media.  All schools have been sent log in details from the Regional Schools Commissioner’s office. I liaised with the RSC’s office to ensure that all schools had received their log in. Now frequent users of the site include Rushey Mead Academy, Moat Community College, The City of Leicester College, Roundhill Academy, Charnwood Primary, Launde Primary, Marriott Primary and The Cedars. This is important and needs to continue to be championed next year. Individual support given to any schools who request it – for example advice given to Wyvern Primary school

Communication to schools regarding the TES via a deal we brokered last year, and liaison between TES and 5 schools to renew their deal.  Reminder given to all schools that all Leicester schools can advertise support staff posts in the TES for free.  Eteach continues to be the main provider of advertising for Leicester teaching vacancies. This year we have improved the ‘Leicester’ section of the site and ensured there is a working link to the visitleicester.co.uk website. We have also put Leicester on Eteach’s front page to attract potential teachers.  

Secondary schools in Leicester have been informed about international recruitment to MFL, Science and Maths posts – via the DfE.  All Leicester schools have been signed up to take part in the centrally funded international recruitment for Science and Maths (and for MFL were signed up last year).

Leicester teaching vacancies live on Eteach or TES are shared on Twitter on a weekly basis.  A number of schools have realised that tagging @TeachLeicester into their tweets means their vacancies will be shared wisely.  

I have supported the SCITTS and TeachLeics at three ITT information events at DMU.  I’ve also been promoting their work widely through @TeachLeicester on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. A number of individual trainees have accessed my support and advice for recruitment to ITT following these events. 

An ambition of the EIP is to collect information about HLTAs, unqualified staff or administration staff who might like to train as a teacher – I’m in the process of exploring whether we could get corporate sponsorship for it. We are currently looking at the best way to collect data on all unqualified staff in all Leicester schools. So that this is not done superficially, it would be better to be led by schools next year.

Whist we have a range of ITT providers in the city, the county and the region and a lot of very high calibre trainees ready to join the profession, one of our biggest frustrations is that many of these trainees sign up to recruitment companies to find a role for their NQT year instead of applying to schools directly. Schools then have to pay large fees to recruitment agencies to appoint the NQT after they’ve done a stint on supply.  At one of the DMU teacher recruitment fairs I attended this year, I watched a recruitment company entice trainees with incentives such as: a cash reward and/or free gifts, accredited training courses in everything under the sun, support with CVs and interviews. However, the most effective tool they used was persuasion.  They told trainees that schools can be toxic, unhappy places so they would be wise to do supply first instead of committing themselves to a school which might be terrible. 

In response to this, I advised secondary headteachers in the city to write a joint letter to all ITT providers, to pass on to students – to make it clear why they should not sign up with recruitment agencies.  I drafted the letter, the Headteachers agreed it and became signatories, and then I sent it to all ITT providers in the East Midlands.

I have organized, prompted or supported three events for Leicester teachers this year:

  • Christmas social teach-meet, 18th December 2018.
  • #BrewEdLeicester on 22nd June 
  • #WomenED Careers and development themed event for aspiring leaders, 6th July 2019.

Also, Rita Hindocha and I are on the verge of confirming ResearchED for Leicester in 2020. This would be a great coup for the city and be hugely beneficial from the point of view of evidence-informed practice for raising standards.  Fingers crossed!

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to support Leicester schools with recruitment and retention for the last two years and I wish you all huge success in the future. It has been great to get to know so many of you.

Carly Waterman
carly.waterman@sdsa.net or carly@watermanleanring.co.uk
07813 699912
Twitter @TeachLeicester (or @621carly)
Teach Leicester on Instagram and Facebook