To help you reduce the amount of recruitment you need to carry out, you should consider carrying out retention activities.  Having a low turnover of staff can make your workplace attractive to applicants and means you can spend more time on core business rather than recruiting.  It can also help to keep the cost of temporary staff down.  It will also be helpful if you carry out exit interviews with leavers to understand their reasons for leaving, this will help you to identify any patterns and also give you positive information about what is good about the role/school to help with advert wording. 

Below is an exit interview template, we recommend that someone other than the immediate line manager completes the exit interview. 

Exit interview template


Succession planning guidance

One reason that an employee will stay with you or will want to join your school is the career development opportunities you offer and the investment you make in your staff.  Linked with this, is a schools ability to plan for scheduled and unscheduled absence, when a member of staff with key skills or knowledge may be away from work at short notice, sometimes for a long period of time. 

To support this, we’ve written some guidance about succession planning – this helps to:

  • identify key skills/knowledge  within your school
  • identify where there is a single point of failure, eg if only one member of staff knows how to process invoices and he/she goes sick/leaves.
  • identify development opportunities for your staff

See more about succession planning

Plan ahead

Headteachers aged 55+ can opt for phased retirement, allowing a Deputy to act up on the Heads non-working days.   This provides the Deputy with some good experience and development while maintaining stability. 

Ensure your school has a succession plan.  This should identify training and development opportunities for staff and could also help to identify acting up arrangements for both planned absences and unplanned ones.  This may help with retention if Teachers can see a planned career path and development.

If you are not a teaching school or part of a teaching school group, it makes sense to join as it will provide you with a regular supply of Early Careers Teachers (ECTs) and there is a lot of evidence to show that people who complete training in a school are likely to accept an offer from that school.

Could you consider a rota whereby each Deputy/SMT member person takes it in turn to act as Head for a term/school year?  This would generate considerable savings and could provide an opportunity for another member of staff to act-up to the Deputy/Assistant role and therefore gain development and experience.

Can any of the duties of the Head be assigned to a different member of staff (existing or new), which may mean you can consider a part-time candidate?  This would provide salary savings and may open up a wider pool of candidates for your role.  It’s extremely rare that we see part-time Head vacancies and this may be very attractive for some applicants, hopefully generating a good response.

Retention/Attraction strategies

Consider offering relocation/accommodation support to candidates – but be aware that this will have to meet HMRC rules and would need to be published in your pay policy.

You could consider golden hello and/or golden handcuff payments, but these can become expected and may be seen as a pay cut if you stop paying them and any award would need to be published in your pay policy and in accordance with the School Teachers Pay & Condition document 2015.

Can you put an LSA into every Maths/Science class to support the Teacher?  This may be a selling point to candidates as it shows there is extra support for them in your school.

Do you have any Higher LSAs who can take a class to either give the Teacher time to spend with a group within the class or more time for PPA on a regular basis?

Can you work with local businesses and/or volunteers to have regular visitors to spend time within the class/with groups to help support the Teacher?  This may have the added benefit of providing additional support for work experience placements and careers events.  Remember DBS checks.

Consider liaising with local apprenticeship providers such as SEAC, Aylesbury College, ATG Training, E4S and Amersham College.  Apprentices can be very successful and can offer a good flow of permanent candidates. 

Building relationships with local colleges who offer Childcare training/qualifications may help raise your profile as a local recruiter of child related roles.  You can also offer work experience to these colleges and/offer to do a brief talk to a group of students.

Build relationships with local secondary school 6th forms – many of them require their 6th form students to carry out community work and supporting children in a primary school on a regular basis would benefit the students and you and also provide a channel for future recruitment.

Explore having a rota for parents/grandparents of pupils at your school to help and set this as an expectation – this may not fully solve the recruitment problem but may help to reduce the urgency of vacancies.  You could also do this when you need a project to be completed – such as preparing books/trays for the new school year and auditing library books etc.

Was this page helpful?

Very poor
Neither good nor poor
Very good