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HR: Framing the conversation in Education Rss

Posted on: March 6th 2020

Recruiting and retaining staff in a competitive market can be a challenge for any organisation and draws on the skills of several talent management functions such as Resourcing/Talent Acquisition, Marketing and HR. All of these talent management functions collaborate closely to make for an efficient, robust and compliant recruiting force.

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As a Multi Academy Trust, the Harris Federation has both a local HR network within academies, and a central HR team for oversight, guidance and to provide specialist support. With almost 50 academies in and around London, a HR provision with clear processes, policies and accountability is integral to maintaining safe and professional places of work. Through our Federation approach, we deliver HR knowledge and support to our academies that is specialist, remedial, supportive and strategic in our workforce planning.

Within a broad spectrum of Human Resources, we will be focusing on some of the more impactful and important areas that relate specifically to our recruitment and retention practices with Harris.

Safer Recruitment: Ensuring children are safe in Education

Adopting rigid and transparent safer recruitment procedures helps to maintain compliant recruitment and HR processes which enables schools to identify and prevent safeguarding concerns. As recommended practice by the Department of Education, the single central register is a responsibility of educational HR personnel to update, collate and maintain. This document is a history of identity, qualification, safer recruitment checks (including DBS) as well as other important checks on employees.

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Staying abreast of statutory guidance, legislation and their practical application in day to day safer recruitment is an important and very well-established model at Harris. Our HR professionals are regularly trained, supported and attend networking session which unites HR officers and managers from across the Federation to share and discuss best practice and key updates. Collaboration is a key factor in the way that the Federation works. Where there is a more effective way to approach HR responsibility or a more effective way to handle an HR issue, our staff can connect with each other.

As an HR professional with us, there are a multitude of opportunities for training and development where individuals can feel supported in their current roles as well as their own personal development. As HR professionals supporting just under 50 different academies, we provide our staff with a central body of HR professionals to support, liaise and advise where possible. We ensure that HR professionals can tap into a well-connected network whom of which are supported and support.

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Wellbeing is a topical and important subject for both private and public sector companies, within the teacher community. When we think about what challenges occur, one that comes to mind is the lateral movement of teachers in and out of the profession. In recent years, the education sector has seen a difficult downturn in the attraction and retainment of teaching staff. According to the House of Commons briefing papers led by David Foster on Teacher recruitment and retention, “around 42,000 full-time equivalent qualified teachers left the state-funded sector in the 12 months to November 2018, which is a ‘wastage rate’ of 9.8%. This is the lowest rate since 2013.”[1] As the nature of retention has seen a significant shift, there is a pressure to combat the growing number of working age teachers leaving due to pressures such as workload.

The question that continues to arise is, how do we approach wellbeing and provide preventative measures concerning issues such as workload in the workplace? There is responsibility for the Principal, to introduce a well-balanced, supportive work culture into the academy as well as ensuring that there are strict policies in place to combat and prevent staff from burnout, workload pressure and other role related stress.  In part of wellbeing provisions, where there are guidance practices to adopt or policies to put forward, this is shared across our HR networks, with the task of the central team to distribute locally for academies to learn from and adopt.

This collaborative approach continues to underpin the success of our Federation model and encompasses support, collaboration and accountability. Amidst a busy recruitment period, we are also continuing to be attentive to and address the Department of Education’s 2020 consultation of proposed change in the KCSIE (Keeping Children Safe in Education) statutory guidance, to ensure our Federation recruitment and selection process and policies remain current and robust.

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In part of maintaining a mindful, transparent and open workplace, our Employee Assistance Programme offers free and confidential advice, which is available 24hrs, 7 days a week. Alongside competitive benefits which are in place to provide support to all our staff in areas of wellbeing, health and personal development; staff have access to structured counselling of up to six sessions available either face-to-face or over the phone. Alongside advice services such as this, we are increasingly aware of the need for mental health aid and advice in the workplace, and the Federation is taking a progressive approach to our practices in the workplace.

As a short insight into HR professionals in the education sector, the gravity of their roles in support of education is what continues to stand out. As an integral support function to the teachers and support staff which work to create fantastic learning spaces for young people, human resources are much more than just the ‘personnel of business or organisation.’ Next week we sit down to discuss HR function in the Federation with our central team HR Officer, Dominika Kozlowska.    

To find out if there are opportunities for you in the central team, click here to browse our vacancies.

A full list of the benefits available to our staff can be found here. 

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[1] “Teacher recruitment and retention in England”, House of Commons Library Briefing Paper: 7222, (16/12/2019) p.3

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