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A view from both sides


Nearly a year on since leaving my Head of Recruitment position in a very large Multi Academy Trust (MAT), I now find myself in a position whereby I am able to understand and appreciate the challenges of leadership recruitment even more so in my current role as a Recruitment Consultant.

As outlined in the recent study published by Future Leaders,  over 50% of head teachers in the capital are over 50, and out of 286 Heads questioned, 28% confirmed of them said they would be leaving the profession in the next 5 years,. As a result Leadership recruitment particularly to Headship positions has reached a critical point.

So knowing this, do recruitment professionals in the education sector overcome the barriers to recruiting to senior leadership positions?

During my time as Head of Recruitment for a large regional MAT, the recruitment strategy for recruiting senior leaders focused the strategy on internal networking, secondments, and employing the Executive Leadership model once external advertising channels had been exhausted. The continual frustration of re-advertising at a costly fee hindered the pathway to a successful solution being reached.

Due to the size of the MAT (40plus academies), a network of leaders was on the doorstep, benefitting from the economies of scale. At times however, despite these factors, the appointment of the ‘right’ senior leader was often a extremely difficult. Having now moved over onto the ‘other side’ working for a recruitment agency who specialise in high calibre interim senior leaders, my view has broadened in terms of the benefits of employing interim senior leaders into schools. 

I believe that education recruitment has reached a point now that despite the size and network that large MATs operate, there does need to be more emphasis on exploring all channels of recruiting senior leaders. MATs need to become more open to tapping into the vast benefits of using agencies for interim leaders, even if only for short periods of time. The positive impact and stability that can be achieved by taking advantage of a highly skilled experienced Head Teacher where there is often a strong need due to factors such as Ofsted should be seriously explored rather than ignored.  I believe by adopting a positive approach to interim solutions enables schools to progress further, quicker and more effectively, allowing the transition to flow naturally with minimal impact on the day to day operations and strategies in any academy. This approach avoids wasting time on multiple external adverts to only receive minimal applications, very often from a weak or unsuitable field.

Another factor to consider when large MATs use internal senior leaders to ‘act up’ or support schools, often in challenging circumstances  , is often those leaders have to leave their home academy to parachute in to support a school in need. This will often have a detrimental effect on the home school. Therefore I believe it is essential that for MAT’s to challenge their current strategies on interim solutions by considering the appointment of an external interim leader who is detached from any other responsibility and has a focussed remit.

Some MATs may argue that cost is a barrier to using agencies for interim leader posts. However I believe in that in the ever changing education sector, where all education establishments face the extreme scrutiny and pressure to achieve coupled with the challenge of recruiting quality leaders, it makes economic sense to take advantages of the benefits of using executive interims to ensure stability and progress. With an effective interim, the school will reach a point of stability quicker, in turn resulting in a shorter contract for the interim, saving money and hopefully fast tracking the successful appointment of a substantive Head.

Laura Bingham

Consultant – Schools, Academies and Further Education (Interim Management)

October 2016

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