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How do schools combat financial inefficiencies?

For any commercial entity, a firm grasp on financial health is critical for success. The same applies for schools. An article recently posted by the Education Funding Agency and Department for Education emphasised the need for “schools to improve their financial efficiency” through regular “financial health checks”. The solution, while being rather ambiguous, was that schools should seek advice and assistance through external organisations.

There is a case for a deeper examination into what areas are actually causing schools to become financially inefficient? After several years in the education sector, one area of spend immediately comes to mind, and it’s got nothing to do with books or buildings.

A recent survey conducted by PWC revealed insights into the teacher recruitment industry and highlights changes within the sector that may be a leading cause for elements of financial inefficiency in schools.

Finding the balance

Take for example, the recent decline in advertising as a recruitment method vs the increase in the use of recruitment agencies. The PWC School Leader Survey in May 2016 revealed that the percentage of teachers recruited via advertising medium decreased from 61% to 54% while the use of recruitment agencies is on the up. Advertising remains the preferred choice, being a low cost yet good value method of promoting vacancies, allowing schools to cast a net into the market and reel in potential talent. However the pool that was once crowded with talent has diminished due to external forces in the market, and schools have been forced to turn to agencies, who while being extremely adept at sourcing talent, charge expensive recruitment fees.

Recruitment agencies are an effective method of recruiting, as long as schools proactively and strategically plan their recruitment. Unfortunately, many schools have not had experience with these strategies making them far less efficient and instead of strategically planning their workforce, they end up firefighting their day to day recruitment challenges.  The result of this, as the PWC report highlights, is “a total spend of c. £180-215 million (fig.14) on permanent teacher recruitment per year, with advertisements accounting for a c.35% of this spend vs. agencies accounting for c.65%”.

A proactive recruitment strategy would see these percentages reversed, with intelligent advertising across the right channels fulfilling the majority of recruitment requirements by targeting the active job seeker market. Schools then retain agencies (and budget) for those “hard to fill” roles where a more intrusive search into the passive market is required. Real time reporting is required to visualise this spend and take action accordingly. So is the ability to establish talent pools that will attract talent a school’s behalf, even when vacancies aren’t actively being filled.

Don’t let a great candidate get away

Recruitment spend, as detailed above, is an obvious contributor to school financial inefficiency, and the finger finds itself firmly pointed at the job boards and agencies once the blame hammer drops. In this environment of intense competition for candidates, it is vital that schools progress candidates from attraction through to hiring as efficiently as possible. Allowing a candidate to sit in your inbox with no communication for three weeks while an advert finishes will ensure that candidate will not be available especially if they are in a ‘hard to fill’ category.

To become more efficient at hiring, thus more financially efficient overall, schools need to baseline their total recruitment spend.  Schools must improve their understanding of their total spend on all recruitment and are usually astounded when they conduct a baseline recruitment health check. Investment in systems that baseline costs, understand candidate sources, streamline the recruitment process, allow for a clear overview with instant communication that nurtures talent is an absolute necessity for schools with recruitment challenges.

Finally, while not directly impacting financial efficiency, it would be unbecoming not to mention the indirect costs of a lack of efficiency around recruitment. A schools HR manager typically oversees many responsibilities and would tell you that recruitment technically forms a small portion of their job description, with payroll, DBS applications and much more. The same HR manager would also tell you that recruitment causes the largest headache. Too many schools are still doing offline what for most industries has moved very much digital, and therefore much slicker.

In summary, school financial health is dependent upon various recruitment activities which includes choice of attraction method, efficiency of hiring and process efficiency. Resolving these issues will decrease the likelihood of a school consistently relying on expensive methods of recruitment, and will contribute to financial health and efficiency of a school as a whole.

This means that there is more need than ever for schools to improve their financial efficiency which prompts a question of how to begin rectifying this?

How can School Recruiter help?

Introducing School Recruiter, the latest innovation in recruitment management system developed to drive efficiencies for schools. One cloud based system for all your recruitment activities, School Recruiter provides you with an end to end suite of powerful tools which focus on three key areas:

Attraction: Enhance your employer brand with stunning, customisable career sites and advertise across multiple channels, with the option of using free and paid for job boards as well as social media.

Recruitment: Seamlessly manage the entire application process with our powerful candidate management tools and applicant tracking system.

Hiring: Use reporting tools to analyse your recruitment spend and import candidate data to your existing HR system.

One thought on “How do schools combat financial inefficiencies?

  1. Using agencies is probably a good idea based on who is doing the recruiting. But it costs and if you are lucky, you will get the service you pay for…. Some managers in schools (and lets face it.. everywhere) can make shocking appointments, falling for aggressive, self promoting and sometimes incompetent candidates which everyone else in the institution has then to live with and attempt to manage alongside doing their own jobs…

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