Recruitment FAQs: how to hire during school closures

Schools are in uncharted waters, but what does it mean for recruitment? Tes recruitment editor Grainne Hallahan answers some of the big questions

Grainne Hallahan

Recruitment FAQs during coronavirus

With schools getting to grips with online learning, many leaders are now looking forward to September and the positions they need to fill.

But with schools and candidates on lockdown, this recruitment window is not as clear as it once was. 

To try to get a better understanding of how the next few months of recruitment will look for schools, we’ve tried to answer some of the important questions on school leaders’ minds.

What will the Covid-19 pandemic do to our recruitment? 

Although there are unanswered questions surrounding staffing at the moment, schools are still advertising for, interviewing and appointing teachers.

Tom Hammond, Tes’ UK sales director, said: “After a very uncertain couple of weeks for schools of all sizes, things have slowly started to settle down. While the number of job ads is understandably a little down, as schools navigate the new world of remote learning, we are still seeing a consistent flow of jobs, which is steadily picking up again. 

“The need for teachers and school leaders is inevitably still there and our joint challenge is assisting in conducting interviews in a remote setting.

“We find it incredibly encouraging how those in the sector continue to adapt and alter their traditional methods to find the very best way forward for their schools.”

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Will the dates for resignations change because of the coronavirus and the time lost during lockdown?

Currently, the resignation dates remain the same and can be found here.

Is it better to suspend all interviews and recruitment until the pandemic ends, and we can properly assess staffing levels?

At this moment, it is very difficult to judge how the pandemic will impact upon staffing levels.

For now, it would be wise to continue to fill the vacancies you know you will have in September, and then reassess once you know your staffing levels.

It might require you to restructure before you recruit.

You can read more about restructuring your staff here

Q. What will this do to the supply sector?

Although supply teachers may have found the demand on them increased while schools were still operating as normal, now they have closed, it is inevitable that demand has dropped.

Once term begins again in September, we might see an increase in the use of supply teachers as staffing levels adjust as a result of the impact of the pandemic. 

Earlier in the pandemic, there were concerns that supply teachers would be left considerably out of pocket. However, recent announcements look set to secure 80 per cent of earnings for supply staff

Will there be a shortage of NQTs? 

In a recent announcement, Gavin Williams, the education secretary stated that current trainees will be given special allowance to gain qualified teacher status (QTS)

Training providers will be allowed to grant QTS based on progress, and trainees will not have to have completed the usual mandatory 24 weeks in class. 

How can I conduct interviews while my school is closed?

During this period, it will not be possible to conduct in-person interviews. Instead, you might be asked to conduct an over the telephone or by video conferencing.

Many international schools use Skype or other video-conferencing software to conduct interviews. 

How can I make sure I’m getting a quality candidate when they don’t interview in person? 

While you may not be able to meet a candidate in person, schools who are interviewing virtually seem confident in building an accurate picture of their future employee.

Nick Soar, executive principal at St John’s Wood and for the Harris Academy Tottenham, said: “By conducting a two- or three-stage interview process, principals and the other interview panel members can build a profile of the applicant, and can really take the time to assess if the applicant has the skills and competences for the job.

“Conducting a multi-stage interview process gives applicants the chance to familiarise themselves with the process and technology used, and the opportunity for the interview panel to see how the applicant performs throughout the process as a whole.”

How can I replicate tasks or lesson observations? 

Although lesson observation is the typical way to gauge the quality of a candidate’s teaching ability, this will not be possible with the current school closures. 

Instead, you will have to rely upon references, the candidate describing their own teaching style, and their responses to your questions.

“Lesson observations are a key component of assessing an applicant for any teaching or leadership position,” said Soar.

“It’s difficult to replicate a lesson observation virtually but, by using competency-based questions and role play/simulations, we can recreate an interview and assessment process which identifies an applicant’s suitability.”

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Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan is Tes recruitment editor and senior content writer at Tes

Find me on Twitter @heymrshallahan

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