If ever we needed more evidence for just how important quality support staff are to school life, the coronavirus pandemic has provided it. Support staff were crucial to keeping schools open for children of critical workers and vulnerable children, whilst teachers were preoccupied with delivering virtual lessons.
Often, support staff do more than support. In a survey from National Education Union (NEU), the support staff quizzed said they regularly teach whole classes on top of their other responsibilities, which include planning nurture and intervention groups, liaising with teachers to update student profiles and strategies, writing education plans and much more.
Unfortunately, however, support staff often don’t get the recognition or the time that their work demands. As an educator, we don’t need to do any further underlining of the crucial contribution support staff make. But is it reflected in your recruitment efforts?
In other words, are you putting the same time and energy into trying to attract support staff as you are teaching talent? Schools rarely get it right, which creates an opportunity for those that do to hoover up the best support staff.
Here are some tips on how to shape your recruitment strategy towards recruiting quality support staff:
1. Show you are sympathetic to their frustrations
Often, we go hunting for a new job borne out of frustration. So, the best thing that any employer or recruiter can do is show that they understand and are sympathetic to those frustrations.
The main gripe support staff have is around the number of hours they’re having to work, which they feel is out of step with how they’re reimbursed financially. In NEU’s survey, three quarters of those who responded work additional hours. Yet, two-thirds said that they are never paid or otherwise compensated for this extra work.
While you can’t always make promises around pay, you can offer some reassurance that they won’t have to work excessive hours.
2. Put your support staff in the spotlight
You can make all the promises in the world about prioritising the wellbeing of support staff and assuring them that they won’t have work beyond their contracted hours – it doesn’t mean they’re going to believe you.
It’s much more convincing when it comes directly from your staff. So, consider putting a few videos on your website of your teaching assistants and other support staff, explaining how they are supported and how they wouldn’t swap your school for any other… or words to that effect!
3. Show a career path
Support staff are just as ambitious and career-driven as teachers – but sometimes don’t get the same opportunities.
Make sure your support staff understand they will have access to good quality training, evidence-based learning strategies and opportunities to work in partnership with teachers as well as other professionals.
Opportunities to understand language and communication needs, and other areas of specific interest, will ensure that your support staff are not only developing their personal skills, but evolving within the role.
4. Write engaging adverts
It’s time to do away with the generic support staff adverts and put together something that they really want to hear, in line with some of the points above.
There’s an art to writing an engaging advert which highlights your school’s USPs and shows that you are an employer that cares about its staff.
Remember, they all share a love for children: for what their pupils say and do. Those pupils’ individual successes are the reason they turn up to work every day. Ensure this is reflected in how you communicate to candidates.
5. Team up with a recruitment expert
If you’re really serious about attracting quality support staff, partnering with a recruitment expert makes a lot of sense. Eteach can help with every element of your recruitment strategy, including your website itself.
If your career site could do with a facelift, why not find out more about Eteach’s career site editor? The powerful, real-time page software integrates with your school’s social channels and is fully optimised for mobile devices.
Our editor will help you to position your school as an employer of choice in your local area and in turn, inspire more candidates to hit that ‘apply’ button. Find out more today!