This article by Grainne Hallahan was originally published in the Tes

Changing schools is always a nerve-wracking experience. Even if a teacher is thinking about leaving a place where they’ve become unhappy, the prospect of moving to a new school – which is bound to have its own problems – can make them reluctant to move on.

What’s more, there is often very little difference in the salaries being advertised for new roles, which means there is even less of an incentive to move on. 

Budgets and set pay scales mean that all schools operate within a pretty strict set of finances. But are you able to motivate people to move schools without a financial incentive? A survey from LinkedIn seems to suggest you can.

The truth is that people are motivated by all sorts of different external factors, so you don’t have to make it all about the number on the pay cheque.

So what non-monetary motivations can you use to entice new teachers to apply for your vacant posts?

How to attract teachers without offering big pay

1. Offer CPD

Simply collecting a salary isn’t enough to make anyone happy. You have to offer more if you want to attract teachers to your school.

Three letters sure to grab their attention are CPD.

“What people are after is being looked after, and CPD is one way to show that,” says Alice Hudson, executive headteacher of Twyford CofE Academies Trust. “People want opportunities to develop, and you should make it clear when you advertise what working for your institution will mean for their career development.”

There is an abundance of training programmes out there for teachers, such as the NPQ courses, the Chartered College of Teaching, and, of course, traditional master’s programmes.

However, CPD doesn’t necessarily have to mean paid-for courses. If your school offers job shadowing, acting up or sabbatical breaks, then make sure anyone looking to take a new role knows this.

2. Show them what your school is about

One way to attract candidates without spending a single penny is to simply tell the world what your school stands for.

“It’s not just what we can offer, it’s about our ethos. You need to communicate and showcase all those things you do as a school to make your staff able to do their jobs happily,” explains Hudson.

“Different schools are right for different people. Our schools are very driven, and that suits certain people,” she continues. “The wrong person isn’t wrong because they’re a ‘bad teacher’, but just because they wouldn’t be happy [at your school], and that’s a lose-lose situation.

“You need to [accurately] convey what it will be like working for you to make sure both the school and the new teacher are happy.”

3. Offer flexibility

If you can offer a role as a part-time option, then it makes sense to flag this up in your job advertisement.

This isn’t just for the benefit of potential candidates; it could be beneficial for your whole school, too. A literature review commissioned by the Department for Education, Exploring flexible working practice in schools, found that flexible working could benefit schools in a multitude of ways.

“Benefits to flexible working (for example, reduced absenteeism and increased productivity) appear to be particularly notable where small team-based approaches have been adopted. These include co-designing timetables and rotas, and regular collaborative reviews of flexible working schedules,” the report states.

For Lesley Bishop, principal of Atlantic Academy (Secondary) in Portland, Dorset, it is equally important that you highlight your commitment to work-life balance. At her school, they draw attention to the wellbeing benefits provided by the school’s location.

“[Teacher applicants] appreciate the work-life balance they can strike here. Once school ends for the day, teachers can take a walk along the beach, enjoy rock climbing or sailing,” Bishop says.

4. Provide challenge

As Hudson has already pointed out, the key to successful recruitment is ensuring that both the school and the candidate knows what they’re getting. That means that glossing over the challenges of working in your context will only result in you failing to attract candidates who are the best fit for your school. 

So, be upfront. Are you a school that allows full teacher autonomy, or are you asking for lesson plans each week? Is the behaviour of students in your school well managed, or is it a work in progress? 

Whatever the situation, framing your advertisement as a challenge can help to appeal to the right candidate.

For instance, Bishop highlights to candidates that high levels of social deprivation in the area that her school serves mean that the school does face its challenges – but that there is a huge emotional pay-off for that.

”Portland, for all its beauty, is not without its difficulties. Some 40 per cent of students are entitled to free school meals,” she explains. “It is a challenge, but also incredibly rewarding because a teacher can make a real difference to the lives of children here. You are part of a community and you overcome challenges together, which makes the school and its teachers an influential and integral part of that community.”

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