With nurseries and pre-schools struggling to find enough staff and competition growing tough, how can you recruit the people you need? Natalie Hancock, mum and teaching assistant, gives her opinion on what pre-schools and nurseries can do to stand out from the crowd.
When the company where I was working as an office manager went through a takeover, things changed. As a mum with a young family it meant that the previous job flexibility no longer existed, the demands on my time at work were increasing and I didn’t want to compromise the care of my children for the sake of work. Speaking to my husband we came to the decision that I should look at other careers providing the flexibility we needed as a family.
I began to think about what I enjoyed doing, and had always helped at the primary school our children attended with reading and other activities. I found it extremely rewarding and decided that working in a school as a teaching assistant could be a job that would meet our families’ needs. I was also acutely aware of the teacher shortages and it felt empowering to think I could do something to help the situation whilst having a new career doing what I enjoyed. I spoke to the headmaster of my children’s school and asked whether they would support this. I needed to work in the school to get the practical experience to complete a CACHE Level 3 Certificate in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools – QCF and they agreed.
Natalie celebrating the Hindu festival Holi in school assembly
I looked at all the studying routes but decided that Open Study College, a UK based distance learning provider, was the best route for me. It meant I could complete the course at my own pace online and still be there to collect my children after school. It also gave me the flexibility to continue to work whilst I studied, which kept the money coming in.
After qualifying in March 2016 I spent a few months working in my children’s school to build up my confidence and then signed up with a Teaching agency to broaden my knowledge and experience. I started a supply contract in the September and I worked at a variety of schools from rural to a tougher inner city school before settling in a permanent, full time position.
This journey has made me realise that though it’s not THE solution to the teacher recruitment issue, your existing helpers could help, so why not make them an additional recruitment option? Sometimes we parents need a change in circumstances or a gentle nudge to take the plunge like I did. I bet you already have someone in mind…
Here are 5 tips to maximise your recruitment potential:
1. Finding quality helpers – Parents are an obvious go to, but if they already have a full time job they possibly won’t have the time or the inclination, so don’t discount retired grandparents. They’ll have more time and will love the role as adoring grandparents to multiple children.
2. Partner with local colleges – this way you’ll be front of mind as possible employers / placements for students.
3. Plant the teaching seed – like many, I needed the push to change my career, so why not plant the seed of ‘become a teacher’ to helpers looking for a new motivating, flexible and rewarding role?
4. Advertise placements – there’s nothing like giving a student a foot in the placement door meaning you could be rewarded with a new teacher at the end of it.
5. Newsletters and social media – make sure you’re making use of these to communicate staffing gaps, fundraising and help needed to the community.
Teaching has been life changing for me. Not many people can say they love their job. A year ago I couldn’t, now I can. It’s a career I love, giving me the family flexibility I want.
Natalie Hancock is a mum and teacher who made a career change and would like to help others realise their dreams. Natalie studied a CACHE course to get the career she loves. You can find out more here http://bit.ly/OpenStudyCollegeQA