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Don’t blame schools for failure to recruit teachers, TLTP Education warns

Schools need more help, support and training to understand how best to attract, shortlist and recruit teachers if they are to be expected to continue as the primary recruiter into the profession, says TLTP Education (The London Teaching Pool).

The agency has stated its view following last week’s admission by The National Association of Head Teachers to the Education Select Committee that 59% of schools advertising for teachers "struggled" to get applicants and a further 20% failed completely to appoint anyone. Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the NAHT, said it was clear evidence of a "crisis".

But this, said TLTP Education managing director Darryl Mydat, should not come as a surprise and nor should the blame be laid at the Head Teacher’s door.

“The process of recruiting somebody into any job, let alone into a job as important as teaching, is a complex one,” he stressed. “Head Teachers and school management teams have enough pressure of their time without having to develop expertise in how best to advertise and attract candidates. Good agencies can help schools by removing the need for them to commit time reviewing CVs or doing background checks on candidates, let alone shortlist them, meet them all face to face, complete DBS checks all of which removes the onus from the school to do a lot of the background work as well as marketing.”

The NAHT also warned of extra costs involved in recruitment, citing some schools saying that agency fees to find teachers can cost £10,000 for a single appointment.

“Nobody is forcing any teacher or any school to sign up with any recruitment agency,” explained Mydat. “That is their choice and most teachers - NQT and otherwise - in reality sign up with multiple agencies. At university milk rounds, we have seen not only agencies in attendance but also proactive schools and authorities seeking to attract new teachers. It’s a free market.”

He adds that comments made about the size of recruitment agency fees are also misleading.

“There is a suggestion that agencies simply place a teacher and pocket a large fee. This seems to intentionally ignore the fact that agencies are covering the cost of National Insurance, Holiday Pay and Public Liability Insurance of teachers on their books, as well as their own staff costs. Fees charged do not simply go straight to the agency's bottom line.”

With regard to advertising, Mydat adds that agencies spend an enormous amount of money on on-going advertising and digital marketing which, he says, probably explains why they can deliver candidates that schools struggle to reach for themselves.

Recruitment agencies, he adds, will continue to have an important role to play, not least in delivering illness cover and maternity cover as well as permanent and contract placements. But, Mydat warns, schools should do their homework when considering which agencies to work with.

“Many of the problems come down to schools’ relationships with the agencies with which they choose to work. Not all agencies behave the same way. We would never charge upfront fees, for example. But this is why we always say that schools should work with agencies that are members of the REC (Recruitment & Employment Confederation) and which have REC accredited status.”


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