Recruitment is a bit of a minefield. Getting it right takes time and sometimes a lot of patience! By following the Axcis Guide to Good Recruitment Practice, you can increase your chances of finding that perfect candidate the first time. Part one is all about writing a good job description.
Is the Price Right?
So, where do you start? You have established the need to hire a new member of staff. Before starting on your job description, you should consider the budget you have available for your role and cross-check with other similar organisations to ensure you are in the right ball-park, and have realistic expectations of what duties you expect for the renumeration on offer. For most school staff, there are guidelines provided by the local borough on what salary point should be offered and many Local Education Authorities will do the salary assessment for you. Think about additional duties and whether an experienced candidate is required and if so whether a higher salary can be offered to compensate for these additional duties. Or if you are considering hiring a recently-qualified candidate, are you able to ensure that adequate support is in place to help them along their way? For independent schools, consider what salary other similar schools are offering to ensure you attract high-calibre candidates.
What to include in a Job Description
A job description is essentially a list of duties or responsibilities involved in a position. Before starting to write your job description, you should analyse the role and ensure you have considered all aspects, from day to day duties, to additional responsibilities which may be taken on (for example if someone else in the team is absent). The job description is usually offered to candidates when applying for a role to ensure clarity of what is to be expected of them. While it is acceptable to include phrases like “and any other duties as directed by the line manager”, ambiguous sentences like this are best avoided if at all possible to ensure the candidate knows exactly what duties will be expected of them if they join your team. Your job description is likely to include:
- Profile of the employer/team – this should give the applicant an idea of the vision and ethos of the organisation, what size team they will be working with and what the key aims are within that team.
- Job title – keep it simple and recognisable. Avoid ambiguous titles like “student facilitator”. Stick with “Teaching Assistant”, “Teacher” and other titles people will recognise and be searching for.
- Job location – This is straight forward for most classroom-based roles. However, you may wish to include/mention any off-site activities which your new staff member will be expected to become involved in.
- Summary of the role – What are the overriding aims of the position? For example, a Teaching Assistant role may be simply summarised as something like; “You will be providing one-to-one support to students on the autism spectrum, to assist them in obtaining their goals/targets, as agreed with the SENCo, parents and class teacher”
- Who you will be reporting to – clarity of the organisation structure and who the applicant will be reporting to is an important element of any job description.
- A list of duties – During the analysis of the role, it is likely you will have written a list or brainstorm of what you need the employee to do on a day to day basis. This is the part of the job description which can be a simply bullet-pointed list of duties. For a TA role, your list of duties may look something like this:
Support for the pupil
- support pupils’ learning activities, attend to additional learning needs, and help in development;
- help with the care and support of pupils;
- contribute to the health and well-being of pupils;
- establish and maintain relationships with individual pupils and groups;
- be an effective model for pupil behaviour;
- assist pupils in carrying out schemes of work and programmes set by teaching staff;
- support pupils’ in their individual learning and development, for example, in their acquisition of cognitive and learning skills;
- help pupils to develop their literacy and numeracy skills, and thus to improve their attainment across the curriculum.
Support for the teacher
- help with classroom resources and records;
- contribute to the management of pupils’ behaviour, both in the classroom and on the playground, as required;
- support the school curriculum, especially literacy and numeracy activities;
- provide support for learning activities;
- support the use of ICT in the classroom;
- assist in the maintenance of a safe environment for pupils and staff;
- assist in the presentation of display materials;
- support teaching staff or senior colleagues with routine administration;
- contribute to the planning and evaluation of learning activities;
- assist in the recording of pupils’ progress
- Potential career development opportunities/scope for growth in the role – you will attract the best candidates if you give some information on how they can progress within your organisation.
- Any potential hazards or information on working conditions which may be relevant – this will not be appropriate for all schools, but if a DT teacher will be working with tools or machines, for example – this would be an appropriate place to include details.
- Salary range and benefits on offer – don’t miss the opportunity to sell your organisation. Give a salary band, but don’t forget to include any and all additional benefits, even if they are as simple as free or discounted gym membership or discounts on childcare.
If you’d like to read more of our series on Good Recruitment Practice, the following articles are available: