Staff Recruitment

Why we need to pay attenton to staff recruitment

One of the most important tasks a school leader carries out is to recruit the right teachers for the school they are leading. Research tells us that it is through recruitment of teachers that school leaders have a direct impact on student outcomes.

However, the recruitment challenge is increasing. In his article, Wanted: An extra 400,000 English speaking teachers (Tes, 23 August 2019), Dave Speck,notes that the number of English-speaking international schools around the world will increase by two-thirds by 2029 - prompting an 80 per cent rise in teaching jobs, according to a new report. The Global Opportunities Report, produced by ISC Research, forecasts that the number of such schools will increase from 10,293 at present to 17,368 in ten-years’ time, and that the number of corresponding teaching posts will rise from 506,900 at present to 916,900.

On this page we reflect on the various stages of the teacher recruitment process from identifying the key messages, articulating the school culture and expectations through to the interview process.

Activities align the various elements of the process to IB philosophy and approaches to teaching and learning.

Getting recruitment right - why is it so important?

While teachers have the most direct and obvious impact on student learning, leadership is second only to teaching in influencing outcomes for all students. They do this in two ways: firstly recruiting high quality teachers, and secondly by continually professionally developing these teachers so they are always working at the top their game. There is empirical evidence that links what leaders do with student performance. As Stanford University education policy analyst Linda Darling-Hammond has stated: "It is the leader who both recruits and retains high-quality staff. Indeed, the number one reason for teachers’ decisions about whether to stay in a school is the quality of administrative support – and it is the leader who must develop this organization."[1]

There is clear evidence that well-prepared, expert, and experienced teachers are among the most important determinants of student achievement. “The difference between the effect of having a very well-qualified teacher rather than one who was poorly qualified was larger than the effects of race and parent education combined. The achievement gap would be much reduced if low-income minority students were routinely assigned highly qualified teachers, rather than the poorly qualified teachers they most often encounter. (Clotfelter et al., 2007)[2]

The following quotes underline the importance of getting recruitment right. In addition a diary piece illustrates this. Click here to access it - it may be a helpful reflective starting point.

"It is people, not programs, that determine the quality of a school." (Whitaker, What Great Teachers Do Differently)

“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.”  ( Haim G. Ginott, Between Teacher and Child, 1965.)

It's teachers who make the difference (John Hattie, Teachers Make a Difference)


Activity 1: Thought piece - Teacher Recruitment, Induction and Retention

Read Basha Krasnoff's research article Teacher Recruitment, Induction and Retention which looks at teacher recruitment and induction practices, especially in relation to the high turn-over rate in certain districts. Click here to access it. As you read consider the following guided questions:

  • What are the key qualities of highly qualified teachers? You may like to use these as a basis for writing a person specification.
  • What are the key recruitment messages to bear in mind?
  • What factors attract highly experienced teachers to apply for a job?
  • What qualities are highly experienced teachers looking for in a school leader / administrator?
  • What factors do good teacher induction programmes have?
  • What are the major factors which influence teacher retention?

Activity 2: Recruitment - Identify your key messages

  • Watch the Apple recruiter video and identify the key messages. For example in the first few minutes:

    We're always pushing the envelope
    Never give up because it's too hard
    Becoming experts in new areas
    Small teams can do really great things
    Cross collaboration between groups
    Innovation involves everybody
    What you bring contributes to the whole
    With the right attitude great things can happen
    Always refining, refining, refining

  • Brainstorming: What are the key messages you wish to use when recruiting staff? These messages define the culture of your school?

Activity 3: Recruitment - who are the teachers?

Edvectus is an international teaching agency, that specializes in matching internationally minded qualified teachers with appropriate internationally based schools. Their approach allows candidates to access carefully developed and moderated online training that will enable them to land their dream teaching jobs abroad.

This activity encourages you to spend time exploring their website to see the recruitment process from the other side - from the point of view of the teacher who is looking for an international post.

  • Explore Edvectus' website.
  • Identify key messages.
  • What do you learn from this site which can improve your recruitment process?

    The Edvectus website contains:

    • regional and country guides
    • teacher tips such as how to evaluate financial packages
    • general advice and insights for internationally bound teachers through our blog and our Twitter feed. 
    • videos, guides, documents, courses and websites all developed or selected with the international educator in mind
    • Explore Edvectus' website.
    • Identify key messages.

    Advertising positions

    In a tough recruitment market how do you make sure that your advertising and recruitment process stands out from others? Great candidates want a great recruitment / application experience.

    • What is your USP (unique selling point)? If you were to search for your school on Google right now, what would come up? Candidates will search the web before applying. How is your school different from others?
    • What are your key messages about being an 'Employer of Choice'? You need to market your school to candidates. You need to provide reasons why a teacher should dedicate the next part of their career to working in your school. To identify strengths, ask your best teachers what they enjoy about working at the school. Ask about: what the school does well; their reasons for feeling emotionally attached to the school; what might attract other teachers to apply and the schools' most significant improvements in the past year or two.
    • To what extent does your website present a picture of you as an Employer of Choice? Many school websites are very good shop windows for parents and pupils, they are not always the best advertisement for the recruitment of teachers. What could you put on your website that would differentiate you from other employers? What reasons do you give of why a teacher should come and work for you?
    • Address the question of cost of living head on. A main reason many teachers work abroad is to save money and bring these savings back home. However, they are sometimes less wise in working what the salary is worth. By addressing the issue of cost of living you put the salary within a cost. What will it buy? How expensive (or cheap) is it to live in your country? What percentage of the salary to teachers on the whole save?
    • What benefits do you offer and how do these apply to all members of the family? The answer to this question can provide security and a clear message about the duty of care you provide. Do you provide accommodation or an allowance? If the later what will the allowance buy? Are school fees for dependent children covered? What about the cost of transportation? Do you provide medical cover for the member of staff and their family? What other benefits do staff receive?
    • Can candidates find all the information they need in one place on your website? Does this contain: information about the school (school prospectus; latest inspection report); reasons why you are an excellent employer; job description and person specification; application form; place to post personal statements; letter from the headteacher; video content; visual content; commendations - i.e. 'what people say about us'?
    • Do you do on-line advertising? In today's world people connect via the internet and using social media. How do you use these in your recruitment process? Take advantage of low-cost digital marketing, such as social media and websites, to promote consistent positive messages in line with the brand and culture of your school.
    • Do you have a mobile strategy? Is your website optimized for access on mobile devices? Does your website look elegant on mobile devices? It can be very frustrating trying to access some website on a mobile if they are not.

    Activity: Selling yourself

    Researching into how people recruit staff is time well spent. For example, look at the website for Jobsite named as one of the UK's best work places. Click here to access the website.

    Dig deeper:

    Business balls has a good article on 'Job adverts: how to design and write effective job advertisements - tips and techniques'. Click here.

    A head for hiring: The behavioural science of recruitment and selection is a research report by CIPD, the professional body for HR. Although long it is a good document that takes a broad look at recruitment, from outreach activity and the creation of job adverts, through to making final hiring decisions. In doing so, it brings several key debates up to date, discussing the best available evidence in this crucial and continually evolving field. Click here to access it.

    The Application

    The process of recruiting the right teachers starts when you put pen to paper and write the advert and application pack you sent to potential candidates. What are the key messages you wish to send? How does what you write articulate the distinctive nature of your school (your USP: unique selling point)?

    The following activities encourage you to align your recruitment processes to the IB philosophy.

    Activity 4: Our school culture

    Each school has its own organizational culture. By 'culture' we mean 'the way things are done around here'. You may find it helpful to look at what we have already said about school culture elsewhere on this website: What is our school culture?

    • In your application pack how do you describe your school culture? Are you explicit about your expectations? Is it clear to the candidate what the distinctive elements of your school culture are?
    • You may like to consider describing your school culture in the form of an essential agreement. It could contain reference to how you think effective learning happens? The teacher behaviours and attributes that facilitate effective pupil learning.
    • What are your expectations of teachers as lifelong learners? Does this include a commitment to a professional inquiry approach to the art of teaching? What are your expectations of IB teachers in relation to commitment to the IB Mission? Do you require all teachers to do some form of personal service learning, thus being models for students?
    • Do you make it clear that the IB has specific teaching and learning strategies as embedded in the Approaches to Teaching and Learning documents? How do you ensure alignment with these?
    • Where does your application pack refer to some of the key principles underlying IB programmes - e.g. a constructivist approach to knowledge and meaning making, an inquiry approach to learning?

    When a group of school leaders on a workshop were asked what would be their essential criteria in recruiting teachers they came up with the following - what would be yours?

    • International Mindedness
    • Passion and love for both students and subjects
    • Plastic brains open to un-learning and new learning
    • Collaborative (flexible, empathetic, team player)
    • Service oriented
    Report Card

    In your adverts why not describe what a report card written by students on a teacher would look like in your school. Such a report would allow you to describe attitudes, dispositions, skills etc. seen from the point of view of the impact of the teacher on student lives.

    Activity 5: Using the Learner Profile

    As leaders of IB World Schools what processes do you have in place to recruit teachers into your school? How do you ensure that the philosophy and pedagogy of the applicants is aligned with IB philosophy and pedagogy? You may find this activity a useful framework for considering how you appoint new teachers into your IB World School.

    Use the IB Learner Profile as a tool for recruitment. In groups:

    • Design recruitment activities to test/assess each learner profile attribute;
    • What evidence would you be looking for to demonstrate the attribute; and
    • Write open questions that would explore each of the attributes.


      1. ^ Education Leadership: A Bridge to School Reform, The Wallace Foundation, 2007. Text of speech by Linda Darling-Hammond.
      2. ^ Clotfelter, C.T., Ladd,, H.F., Vigdor, J.L (2007) Teacher credentials and student achievement: Longitudinal analysis with student fixed effects: Economics of Education Review, 26(6) p.673.
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