There are now literally thousands of blogs out there to pick and choose from. So why read this one? What makes it different from the rest, and why am I qualified to write it?
I work for Axcis. From a business perspective, we are not that different from the many other recruitment companies out there. We find staff, we find vacancies, we put the two together (it always makes me laugh how simple it sounds compared to how hard it is in reality!) What makes us different is two-fold. Firstly, we exclusively specialise in finding SEND staff for the education sector. This takes a surprising amount of time, effort and understanding of the individual needs of the children we ultimately aim to support. So on the business side, we have our niche, or USP (that’s unique selling point to the jargon-haters). Secondly, we are a company that has a conscience. We pride ourselves on offering something a bit different and for doing our bit to give back to the charities and organisations we support and ultimately recruit for. We sponsor the National Autistic Society and work closely with Network Autism and The National Association of Special Schools, among others. We have a knowledge and understanding of the sector which is often hard to find in other education recruitment companies. I am not just saying this in order to big us up – clients have repeatedly come to me because their usual agency is struggling with an SEND vacancy. We offer candidates and clients fair rates and don’t take a huge chunk out of the middle (I won’t name names but some of the margins other companies insist on can be quite shocking).
But what qualifies me to write this blog? I left university and trained as a teacher. I was a secondary science teacher who worked in tough, inner-city schools. I worked with my fair share of SEND students – some of whom had support in class and many others who did not. I became disillusioned with teaching (like so many others out there) and sought my place in the business world. I did my research and decided my skills would suit working in recruitment.
For anyone who has ever seen behind the scenes of a recruitment agency (company, consultancy – whatever you call yourself it’s all the same), it can be a tough game. Cold-calling, figures on boards, long hours and pressure, pressure, pressure! I’ve heard (not at Axcis), managers tell their consultants to lie, cheat or steal to get a candidate to accept a job. I’ve heard consultants bully, intimidate and shout in a skin-tingling way at candidates to make them say yes to a job they didn’t want. Needless to say, my first impressions of recruitment were that this was not going to be the right job for me after all. I left after 6 months, feeling defeated.
Then I found Axcis. I thought I had learned about what NOT to look for in a recruitment company, so this time I was ready to vet them rather than the other way round. After a 2 hour interview, I was offered a job and had a renewed sense of excitement. Finally, a job which could combine my background in teaching with my desire to work in recruitment. Special needs was still an area I needed to develop (after all, we all know how much SEND training there was, and still is (or isn’t) in a PGCE course. But I could develop that area. And have.
10 years later, I’ve been to many schools, met many heads, worked to find staff of all shapes and sizes (metaphorically) and feel that I am in a position to write a blog that might actually be of interest to some of the people out there looking for information on SEND, recruitment, education in general or just wanting an interesting read (hopefully!)