Every year, over £0.5bn is spent on recruitment agency fees in public sector schools alone. That’s a staggering £30,000 per school!
Whether it’s agency fees for temporary staff or permanent staff (including temporary to permanent fees), online job advertising or other indirect recruitment costs like admin and consultancy fees, this much-needed money is being diverted away from school resources, staff and the children and young people in their care.
Firstly, we want to be clear that this is in no way the fault of schools themselves.
The system is failing schools, who are faced with an ever-challenging funding shortfall and lack of available resource to prevent this.
We have an overarching teacher recruitment crisis, which has led to an issue with the supply of teachers. This combined with contractual ownership of teachers by some recruitment and supply agencies means that schools are often faced with high fees and / or long extended periods of hire.
The lack of fluidity in the education labour market is compounded by unwieldy and inefficient recruitment processes, all of which ramp up costs across the board.
Secondly, we are also not saying that all recruitment agencies are bad!
Over the past 20-25 years, with the gradual decline of local authorities’ influence in recruitment and retention, a gap has been created in the market that needed to be filled.
Recruitment agencies without doubt play a crucial role in the recruitment landscape BUT this needs to evolve in line with the changing needs and expectations of schools and teachers.
We believe that a consolidation of the market will help control expenditure, increase flexibility for workers and raise the overall standard of service from recruitment providers.
We want schools to become empowered to take control of their recruitment provision by ensuring they are aware in advance of the costs involved when recruiting, and have the confidence to actively seek out competitive offers and alternative options to ensure best value and quality is achieved.
Schools should be given the support to:
Pool resources between groups of schools for collaborative on-demand provision
Experiment with new flexible working and job share models and share best practice
Map out recruitment cycles and patterns of demand to predict staffing requirements in advance
Alongside this, recruitment providers and leaders in education need to explore how technology can help introduce greater flexibility and fluidity into the labour market.
For example, using platforms and online services to directly connect teachers and schools – increasing transparency and communication, decreasing administrative burdens and overhead costs, and opening up a far broader range of opportunities and choice for both schools and candidates.
More attention must be paid to the soaring levels of teacher stress and pressures of increasing workload to help attract more entrants to the profession and retain existing teachers and, in addition, legislation should be adjusted for education specifically to make employment rules simpler, fairer and more fit for purpose for the specific dynamics and recruitment cycles of the sector.
So why is a school recruitment company trying to help schools spend less on recruitment?
Ultimately, the well-documented problems regarding teacher attraction, recruitment and retention impact the outcomes and life chances of the learners in our system.
Imagine what the world would be like if every child had reliable, consistent access to great teachers throughout their entire education? Imagine “what would they be able to achieve for the world?”
The consequences of not solving these problems are generational and immeasurable.
In today’s economic climate, every pound wasted, is a pound too much.
We believe that if every part of the sector collaborates and works towards solving these problems, together we can reinvest lost funds, improve the attractiveness of the teaching profession and ensure teachers are well supported in the job they love for the long term. This ultimately improves outcomes for the children and young people of our future.