Current situation

We know that it is a difficult recruitment market at present. Teachers are being offered roles, accepting them and then withdrawing, sometimes at the 11th hour. The number of maternity non-returners is high.

Around 20% of NQTs are leaving the profession after 1 year.

Some schools are finding it hard to recruit support staff. Recruitment and temporary agencies are getting more aggressive in encouraging teachers to sign up with them and we have seen some unscrupulous behaviour by some agencies.  We have also heard about some Heads who are ‘poaching’ staff from other schools to plug their own vacancies.


So what can we do to address this?

There are a lot of actions which schools can take/are taking to address this problem including:

  • attraction strategies, better adverts/information for candidates.
  • marketing themselves on professional networks/social media
  • early engagement with candidates to build relationships
  • CPD, succession planning, flexibility
  • advertising roles on a part-time/job share basis to widen the candidate pool
  • re-engineering roles so that you aren’t wanting candidates to work split shifts such as 7.30-9.00am and then again 3.00 to 6.00pm

We would also like schools to consider offering secondments. 

The benefits of this are:

  • schools can retain key staff
  • school & staff benefit from sharing best practice
  • CPD opportunity for existing staff
  • makes staff feel motivated and valued
  • school can temporarily replace a member of staff, potentially at lower cost.
  • good opportunity to further build inter-school relationships


How would this work?

A school advertises a secondment/fixed term opportunity, either in the normal way, or through discussions at Hub meetings.  The secondment would be for a minimum of 0.5 day per week for a half-term and maximum of full-time for 1 academic year.

Applicants would apply in the normal way, but would also have discussions with their own school about applying for a secondment, to see if agreement to be released can be gathered.

A selection process is completed to decide which candidate should be appointed.

Discussions are then held between the recruiting school, releasing school & individual to see if agreement for a secondment can be finalised.  If a secondment cannot be finalised, the individual can decide whether to accept a fixed term contract. 

The releasing school continues to pay the salary of the individual, at a higher rate if appropriate, and re-charges the recruiting school.  The individual has continuous service with the releasing school.

The releasing school could consider an agreement with the recruiting school setting out the dates and terms of the secondment.  This could include a fee if the recruiting school offer the candidate a permanent job, terms for extension/early release etc.

The recruiting school, completes induction, training & appraisal for the secondee.

The releasing school, keeps in touch with the secondee to ensure he/she can make a planned return to the school and ensuring that the secondee is involved in any consultations which affect his/her substantive role.


Questions from the recruiting school

Do I need to do all the pre-employment safeguarding checks?

If the arrangement is being done as a secondment, then we would recommend that you treat the secondee in the same way as you might an agency worker, asking for evidence of relevant checks of employer.  You may decide to carry out a new DBS check if it has been a long time since one was completed and should complete a new DBS check if the current one isn’t relevant to the pupil age.

If the arrangement is offered on a fixed-term basis, because the releasing school wouldn’t release the worker, then all standard checks for new employees should be carried out.

What should I do if the secondment isn’t working out?

You should talk to the secondee and his/her line manager at the releasing school, discussing the reasons/situation and seeking to find a mutually agreeable solution.  However, if there are performance, safeguarding or health & attendance issues, these should be managed by the recruiting school, unless there is a risk of termination of employment in which case it should be managed jointly through set procedures.

What should I do if there is an allegation about the secondee?

This should be managed jointly by the recruiting and releasing school using set procedures.

What should I do if the secondment is needed for less time than we originally thought?

Talk to the releasing school and secondee as quickly as possible and agree a mutually agreeable solution, bear in mind that the releasing school may have made arrangements to backfill the secondees substantive role.


Questions from the releasing school

What should I do if our school restructures/has redundancies during the secondment?

Ensure that you involve the secondee in consultation arrangements, treat him/her as if they were an active member of staff.

What should I do if the status of our school changes (eg from maintained to academy)?

Ensure that you involve the secondee in consultation arrangements, treat him/her as if they were an active member of staff.

What if I need the secondee back in our school?

Talk to the recruiting school and secondee as quickly as possible and try to agree a mutually agreeable solution.

What should I do if the secondee is offered a job at the recruiting school?

Talk to the secondee as quickly as possible, does he/she want to accept the offer?  What notice period is he/she on?  Are there terms in the secondment agreement that means your school is due money from the recruiting school?

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