The key factor in any school’s recruitment process should be that you want to replace leaving staff with new staff who are better. This allows a school to gradually improve the provision available to students and create better outcomes for all.
Before I begin to unpick how schools can improve the recruitment process it is important for me to put my comments into context. If your context is different (I’m sure a lot of yours will be) it does not mean that this blog is not applicable as I believe that there is still vast improvements to be made in all recruitment processes within education. The process used by the vast majority of schools are outdated and follow the premise of doing hats always been done.
I work in a large international school in Thailand that caters for students from 2 years old up to 18 years of age. Staff are hired initially on 2 year contracts and are then offered 1 year extensions annually beyond this. This comes with a certain level of insecurity as some staff tend to move from school to school every 2 years. It does however mean that the market for international teachers is an accessible place with both transient teachers looking to move from one international school to another and teachers from Britain looking to escape what I’m sure many would describe as pretty detrimental working conditions for most at the moment (forgive me if that’s not the case for you).
The main premise of this blog is ‘if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got’. Recruitment procedures are outdated and are causing schools to hire staff who are not exceptional teachers, causing students to progress at a slower rate in classrooms and senior leaders to spend more, money time and energy developing staff’s ability to deliver consistently good or outstanding lessons.
Every school has a proportion (normally around 10%) of their staff who are deemed to ‘need improvement’ in order to deliver suitably challenging lessons to students. Senior leaders spend huge amounts of money and time supporting these members of staff and very often the end product of these supportive measures is the teacher moving on to another school or career.
“Unfortunately some experts suggest that up to 90% of training doesn’t cause a sustained improvement in performance or change behavior because it’s neither well designed nor well delivered” (Work Rules, Laszlo Bock, 2015)
At this moment I’d like to stress that I am not in favour of ‘moving staff on’ who are under performing, but I believe that if school’s put students at the centre of the decision making process then at time this is unavoidable.
This brings us to recruiting staff to replace those who are leaving due to poor performance or those who are moving to advance their career (let’s be honest, these are the only two reasons why staff should leave- if a member of staff is taking a sideways step and they are a valued member of staff then the school should find a way to make them stay).
Going back to my first statement: Schools should always replace leaving staff with better teachers.
So how do we do this? In my opinion, not using the traditional model!
In my current school the process goes something like this:
Initially this seems like a perfectly suitable process where unsuitable candidates are filtered out and then senior leaders chose the best of the best.
However, research suggests that the likelihood of hiring an exceptional employee through conducting just one interview is just 14%. Adding a work sample test such as teaching a lesson whilst being observed or analyzing assessment data and suggesting suitable interventions increases this to 29%, but these are still not great odds of hiring someone exceptional and let’s be honest; why would you be looking to hire someone who’s not truly exceptional?
I believe that by remodeling the current processes schools could significantly increase the chances of hiring exceptional teachers. Below is my suggestion of how a more effective recruitment process could work:
Whilst this may be a long winded process it’s statistically proven to improve a school’s chances of hiring an exceptional teacher. Where candidates participate in cognitive and behavioral interviewing likelihood of employing an exceptional teacher can increase to 56% and a follow up interview with a Headteacher adds 25% confidence rating to a decision ensuring that any interview bias from department staff or Assistant Heads is overcome.
The proposed interviewing system will increase the time it takes to employ a new member of staff, however it will significantly decrease the amount of time (and money) spent supporting staff who ‘Need Improvement’ as it hugely increases the odds of hiring exceptional staff.
Thank you for reading- all feedback on these ideas would be hugely appreciated.
This blog has been written using information obtained from “Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google” Laszlo Bock, 2015.