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With teacher recruitment an on-going crisis for the profession those who have filled their posts might be forgiven for feeling a certain level of relief. With so many teachers leaving the profession and a dearth of new trainees to take their places, it feels good to put a tick in the recruitment box. However, as with all long-term investments, new appointments aren't something you can simply progress from having signed the contract. Good teachers are rare and making sure that you hold onto and nurture your existing talent is essential if you want to retain your star players and ensure you have a workforce that will enable you to improve pupil outcomes and meet school priorities.
Senior leaders must be mindful of identifying talent at the earliest stages of the recruitment process. In the job interview you will hopefully have asked a candidate what their aspirations and key drivers are. If not why not make this a part of their early induction? Throughout the induction process you should maintain an awareness of their performance. Using your organisation's explicit expectations as a backdrop you will be able to quickly identify emerging talent.
Helping an employee feel that they are a valued member of the team is essential. Having identified their key skills, provide them with some quick wins to boost their confidence. These results must be trackable, with secure evidence of an employee's success easily available for appraisals. By being able to drill down into a teacher's key talents you can view where they may be able to resource the school in additional ways, for example by training other teachers or even through secondments to other schools if you operate as part of a MAT or partnership. Offering these opportunities will give you the dual benefit of showing an individual their skills are valued and have an impact on whole-school or Trust-wide improvement.
On the flip-side of this, ensuring peer-to-peer support is available is crucial in the very early induction phrase when new employees often face their biggest challenges. In teaching, more so than with many other jobs, there may often appear to be a regression in a teacher's skill level in the first weeks of a new post. In the vast majority of cases this isn't due to lack of talent but is down to the cultural shift which exists between different schools and differing levels of responsibility. Providing peer-to-peer support so that individuals can root their practice within the schools existing culture as quickly as possible is essential.
Finally, you should make sure that throughout a teacher's career the skills you saw at their appointment are being nurtured. There is no magic solution to retaining teachers but encouraging a culture of belonging and ensuring that individuals are aware of their value to the organisation are key first steps. Schools that are able to demonstrate time and effort spent on talent management are always likely to be those with fewer posts to fill in future!
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