Effective recruitment and retention of teachers within a Multi Academy Trust – Management consultancy in action?

“It is widely accepted that the quality of teachers is one of the most important factors in improving our education system.” House of Commons Education Committee (2012)

 I’m currently crafting a proposal for my MBA consultancy project focusing on recruitment and retention of teachers and how a management consultancy approach can drive change and improvement, and make substantial financial savings too.


Effective Schools understand the importance of recruiting and retaining high calibre staff and try and manage their retention, this can be difficult and limited in scope due to the organisational constraints of schools – regulations that limit incentivised payments and limited professional development or in school opportunities for career progression. Each year if a school stopped one member of staff moving or extended their stay they could save, £6,00-£12,000. For a school who has an average staff turnover of 10-30% (5-10 teachers) this could equate to annual cost/saving of £20,000 – £120,000.

“Almost 84% of school leaders reported that they were experiencing unprecedented challenges in recruiting teachers”, and this is set to continue. Key insights noted that school leaders are, “finding teacher recruitment and retention tricky, … they, and governors, expect to be their greatest challenge for the next 12-18 months”

To allow schools to better manage their affairs Government have created the Academy, publicly funded independent schools. Academies have considerable autonomy for operational and strategic management with a focus on driving up standards. Currently 25% of schools are academies and the government’s aspiration is for all school to join a Multi Academy Trust (MATs) by 2022 costing over £1.0 billion, Replacing the role of the LA and provide the management, infrastructure and HR services.

 Academies as autonomous charitable ‘businesses’ are able to write their own HR policies, negotiate their own pay and conditions and have considerable flexibility in managing recruitment and retention of staff. For example, one Academy I worked in the Principal was able to offer overseas teachers a loan to purchase a car to help them commuting and travel and to pay staff incentives without being bound by custom or regulations. However, the NAHT survey of school leaders, “found that despite the greater flexibilities that academies have in terms of offering pay and conditions, they struggle just as much to recruit” and few are using these powers effectively.

It is argued that by adopting more ‘creative’ recruitment and retention process MATs could make considerable financial savings, particularly important with reducing school budgets and real term savings by as much as 10% per annum as well as improving the retention and moral of staff; But where do schools find new innovative and creative solutions?

In business, there is a historic acceptance and use of external consultants to manage change and improvement. In education the culture is more of a ‘consultocracy’, whereby elite and influential networks of consultants (SIPs, LA advisers, National Strategy Consultants) have been able to obtain a dominant position within education and do the governments bidding. Where these approaches have fallen down has been the lack of understanding of the consultant-client relationship and the split loyalty to the consultocracy and the client school. What is needed is a more pragmatic and dynamic management consultancy approach taken from business and tailored to the needs of schools.


Management consultancy is the creation of value for organisations through the application of knowledge, techniques, assets, to improve performance. This is achieved through the rendering of objective advice and/or the rendering of business solutions

It could be argued that within education we could adopt a management consultancy framework to support change and improvement, but it is essential that there is a clear client-consultant framework focussing on the needs of the organisation. As an MBA student, this field within education is in its infancy and I have proposed that to make the possible savings and have lasting impact it is essential that a new methodology and approach is used that blends best practice from business with experience and understanding of the educational sector. In terms of recruitment and retention of teachers there is a human resource management approach (business) but this needs to be tempered and adjusted through an understanding of the educational profession.

As part of my MBA consultancy project I’m looking at working with MAT’s to see how management consultancy can support school improvement particularly focusing on recruitment and retention of teachers.

The objectives and deliverables of this consultancy project will be to provide the Multi Academy Trust:

  • A detailed analysis of current recruitment and analysis process
  • A detailed analysis of teaching staff views and attitudes to recruitment and retention
  • An options report on possible strategies and approaches to make recruitment more effective (processes and cost savings)
  • An options report on possible strategies and approaches to make retention of staff more effective and sustainable.

So if you have any thoughts or suggestions on this project or leading a MAT and would like to be involved please let me know. I’ll be posting updates as the project develops!