In the midst of a deepening teacher shortage crisis in the UK, where PE instructors are being retrained as maths teachers to bridge gaps, this blog post delves into the multifaceted challenges of recruiting and retaining educators, offering innovative strategies for schools to navigate through these turbulent times.

Navigating the Teacher Shortage: Effective Recruitment Tactics

If you’ve been following the news or working in the UK education system, then you’ll know that it faces an incredible challenge: a teacher shortage. It’s getting so bad that, at the time of writing, PE teachers are having to retrain as math teachers just to help fill the gap.

This complex issue doesn’t look to be going away any time soon. According to a recent assessment, there won't be enough trainee teachers hired for 10 out of the 17 secondary topics in 2025. Meanwhile, classrooms are understaffed, and current teachers face increasing pressure. It’s no wonder that schools are having such a difficult time recruiting and retaining educators.

What can schools do to stem the tide? While there's no single solution, all is not lost, as schools can still implement effective recruitment tactics to attract and retain talented teachers. This blog post explores the current landscape of the UK teacher shortage and offers actionable strategies to address it.

Understanding the teacher shortage

Before fixing any problem, the first step is clearly understanding it. The teacher shortage isn't a new phenomenon. However, it has intensified in recent years due to several factors:

  • Workforce strain: Demanding workloads, high-pressure situations, and increased administrative duties all lead to teacher burnout and career transitions.
  • Salary concerns: Teacher wages have not kept up with increased living costs, making the job less financially appealing compared to other industries.
  • Training challenges: The initial teacher training (ITT) programme can be rigorous and costly, discouraging prospective applicants.
  • Career advancement: Limited chances for professional growth inside schools can lead to stagnation and a lack of enthusiasm for certain teachers.

While it would be nice for a school’s recruitment strategy to address all of these issues, the sad fact is that some of them are simply out of recruiters’ hands. Instead, they must focus on what they can offer to new and experienced teachers to both entice them and improve their working lives. 

Strategies for effective recruiting and retaining talent

What’s on offer?

Before rushing off to the job boards, the first thing educational recruiters must do is assess their current working environment. While offering bigger salaries and bumper bonuses will undoubtedly bring in more interest, the fact is that most schools just don’t have the budget.

This is where schools must get creative. They don't have to offer huge salaries to net the best talent. They just have to provide a wonderful work environment and effectively showcase it. Some winning strategies include:

  • Improved work environment: Foster a good and supportive school culture that prioritises teachers' well-being. This involves encouraging teamwork, acknowledging accomplishments, and responding to concerns swiftly.
  • Reduced workload: Streamline administrative duties and prioritise classroom time, allowing instructors to concentrate on successful teaching.
  • Mentorship programmes: Pair experienced teachers with recruits to give advice and support and develop a feeling of community inside the school.
  • Community outreach: Forming alliances with universities, corporations, and community organisations may foster a more supportive atmosphere for educators while also providing chances for participation.
  • Flexible working arrangements: If at all possible, consider offering flexible working hours, part-time possibilities, or job-sharing opportunities.
  • Focus on support: Above all, make it clear that you always back your teachers and support them through thick and thin.

Targeted recruitment

Once the school has become a haven for teachers, finding (and retaining) them becomes that much easier. There have never been more avenues to recruit educators, so start with the following:

  • Boost your online brand: Whether actively pursuing teachers or being approached by them, it’s incredibly likely that interactions will initially take place online. That’s why a school’s website and online presence (social media, LinkedIn, etc.) must be unified, professional, and have the tone they wish to convey.
  • Use social media: Social media is fast becoming the number one way to recruit in all fields. LinkedIn is the top site for professionals and has its own set of recruitment tools, but don’t ignore Facebook and Instagram. Use targeted ads, post engaging content about the school, and participate in discussions.
  • Craft compelling job descriptions:  Write something that reflects the school's spirit and highlights its many qualities. Emphasise professional development opportunities.
  • Partner up: Partner with universities and training providers to connect with potential candidates early on.
  • Talent Pool: Utilise online recruitment tools like Talent Pool. With Talent Pool, you can recruit top talent from a pool of passive applicants while also doing reference checks on new hires.

Improve success through the recruitment process

Many organisations fail to realise just how important the recruitment phase is in hiring the best talent, mistakenly seeing the process as one-sided. In fact, it’s also pivotal for teachers, as they get a feel for how a school operates. Any inefficiencies, mistakes, or even rudeness can have a tremendously negative effect, so schools should streamline their recruitment as much as possible:

  • Craft a stellar application process: Make it easy for teachers to apply for a role by ditching lengthy forms and using a user-friendly online system that allows candidates to showcase their skills effectively. 
  • Make interviews painless: Schedule interviews efficiently and offer flexible options (in-person, video call) when possible. Coordinate interview panels and make sure the interviewer really knows what they’re doing to ensure a smooth and timely process for candidates.
  • Automate reference checks: Reference checks take days and really slow the whole recruitment process down. Tools like RefNow take the hassle out of reference checks, automatically completing them in just hours. Plus, they ensure compliance, which is vital for the education sector.
  • Always be transparent: Good schools will respect potential teachers’ time by constantly communicating with them and keeping them appraised every step of the process.

Want more advice? Read our other blog post on how to attract and retain top talent in the education sector.

If you would like to learn more about how RefNow's automated Employment Referencing software can help your organisation, reach out to us today and get your first 5 checks free.