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What elements make a school attractive to teachers?

Some schools highlight their Ofsted grading while others boast about exam results...but what really attracts teachers to a school?

selling your school

Jada scrolled through the job advertisements, considering which ones to apply for.

As a maths specialist who had taught physics to GCSE, with a great set of exam results to support her CV, she felt confident about her application.

As a teacher of a shortage subject, she also had plenty of schools to choose from. 

But all applications take time to complete and Jada doesn't have time to fill out 10 of them.

So she begins her research, carefully reading all the supporting documents in search for clues as to which school is right for her.

So what sorts of things do teachers look for when they're searching for a new place to work? 

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1. Behaviour

”My number one consideration would be if there were centralised detentions,” says Ruth Ashbee, lead practitioner (Science) at the Telford Priory School in Shropshire.

”I’d be looking for signs that there was a clear behaviour policy, and that leaders ensure it is consistently applied so all children know they can rely on it.”

Lauran Hampshire-Dell, an English teacher from Surrey, says she would want to see the school for herself, and look for ”behaviour red flags”.

”I‘d look at the general atmosphere in the classrooms; can you pop in without teachers reacting? How are the students behaving? I’d want to see if uniform was a problem,” she says.

2. CPD for staff

”I would be drawn to any advert that uses the word ‘research’,” says an English teacher from an independent school in Staffordshire.

Bob Pritchard, a lead practitioner at St John Plessington Catholic College, on the Wirral, agrees.

”I‘d look for an evidence-informed ethos, and a clear commitment to staff CPD,” he says.

3. Staff wellbeing

As well as at a whole-school level, Hampshire-Dell would want to know about the specific dynamics of the department she was going to join.

”I’d want to know if the members of the department work collegiately, and whether they’re in agreement with the content of the curriculum,” she says.

Sharley Smith, head of girls’ PE at a secondary school in Essex, says for her, it is wellbeing that would sell a school most effectively.

”First of all, I would want to know about staff morale,” she says. ”And after that, it would be facilities.”

Other teachers, meanwhile, say they would look for indications of staff wellbeing in different areas. 

”I would look for signs that there was a focus on impact, not performative practices,” says Ashbee.

”Is the leadership team supportive of whole-class feedback? Is there a culture of candour? It would be these things that would tell me about staff wellbeing.”

4. School life

Parking and location came up again and again. ”I’d want to know about the location of the school,” explains Niall Robinson, primary school teacher in Essex.

”How far is it from the station? Is it on a road that is accessible easily on a bicycle, or if I wanted to walk? And, if it was in a location I would be driving to, is there a car parking space.”

For teachers who don’t drive, or who are keen to use public transport, it is really helpful to share information about access in the additional information on the job advertisement.

”I don’t drive because I’m epileptic,” explains Ella White, a primary school teacher in Cumbria. ”So when I’m looking for potential schools, my first considerations are bus routes, train stations and whether the paths are OK to walk on.” 

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Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan is senior content writer at Tes