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People buy into the ‘Why’ of education that we provide

30 Jun 2020   |   Chris Jessup   |   Wellspring Academy Trust

How our communities are strategically investing in our workforce – despite the challenges of Covid.

The Covid situation has had a number of consequences for schools across the country – not least an increased challenge to recruitment and retention. Fewer opportunities and vacancies have been advertised than normal, and routes into schools have been affected by a general uncertainty around future financial planning and workforce requirements.

However, Wellspring leaders across our communities have shown a commitment to strategic, innovative and inclusive recruitment and retention practice. This assurance and long term investment demonstrates our values in being a people centred organisation that provides equality of opportunity.

Across the Ebor and Victoria Primary Academies, five salaried Schools Direct trainees have been recruited. The administrative process involving application, selection and interview was handled by the Schools Direct team, with Executive Principal Sam Bailey being able to recruit virtually. The whole process was “incredibly efficient”, says Sam “and enabled me to get to the core of who was being interviewed, assess their potential and make swift decisions”.

Sam has a well established and sophisticated recruitment process in her other schools that comprise the Barnsley Primary Partnership (BPP). Seven unsalaried trainees will begin in September along with a Graduate Teaching Assistant role. The training takes place across Forest, Oakhill and Oakwell Rise and is a win/win for both trainers and trainees. It provides what Sam describes as “massive capacity. It is a great opportunity for teachers within the schools who are responsible for the training. The CPD they receive as a result of articulating the practice is exceptional. The trainees grow by having a significant coach and mentor at the start of their careers”. The programme requires access to alternative provision pedagogy – with the BPP able to reciprocate in kind – and helps to coordinate the thinking and culture.

Beacon Academy in Cleethorpes has had an incredibly challenging few years in terms of recruitment. A school that, three years ago, was literally counting to ensure that there were enough teachers to start the term is now enjoying a renaissance and is in the happy position of selecting from fields of candidates for posts. Last September, Beacon welcomed eight new members of staff to the team.

This year, a further nine will add to the growing curriculum offer. “For us,” Jason Thurley the Headteacher explains, “people subscribe to the ethos above all – we all want to make a difference to the lives of children”. By recruiting for culture, Beacon is able, for example, to offer 43 extracurricular activities in a school of less than 400 pupils. The school places itself apart from traditional Secondary schools. It stresses ‘human-scale education’ with a breadth of curriculum that is growing every year. New teachers feel supported in their career ambitions.

“People buy into the why of the education provided here” continues Jason. “The chance of joining a school and a Trust that offers opportunities, treats professionals as professionals and believes education is built on relationships is a powerful magnet for new and established teaching colleagues”. Just as with Sam’s schools in Barnsley and Leeds, Jason has been able to slash the supply budget and reinvest the money, helping to secure the long term viability of the school.

For Sarah Jones, Executive Vice-Principal at Spalding and Grantham Alternative Academies, the key to a continued pipeline of excellence lies in inviting colleagues who work as Teaching Assistants or HLTAs onto an Aspirant Teacher programme. Sarah inspires those lacking the formal qualifications – but displaying the skill and the will in class everyday – with an entry level programme dealing in many of the key aspects of pedagogy and classroom practice.

So, for example, part of the course interrogated Learning Objectives, researching how they are used, looking at their bespoke use and
evaluating impact. The one year course leads to deeper understanding and further accreditation via QTLS. This innovative approach has been promoted widely via ConnectEd leading to colleagues from other Trusts expressing an interest in joining – a true example of system led school improvement.

Three differing and creative approaches with one common aim. What connects them is a clear strategic direction from the leaders
and the determination to recruit to the values of the school and the Trust.

A compelling vision is clearly articulated from the depths of rural Lincolnshire, to the coast of Cleethorpes and across cities in Yorkshire. Leading on recruitment is just one area where Wellspring is at the forefront of education: wherever our communities of practice flourish, we have innovation, assurance and inclusion at our heart.


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