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MATs: What you should consider in your recruitment strategy

By Paul Matthias, National Director of Hays Education

With 58.8%* of large national multi-academy trusts (MATs) anticipating a shortage of suitable applicants when recruiting over the next 12 months, and competition from other employers seen as a bigger threat than ever (20.58%), recruiting top talent is firmly in the mind-set of most MAT senior leaders and HR teams.

As we edge closer to the final notice date for this academic year for those wishing to leave their role, we’re taking classroom staffing into consideration and delving into what you need to deliberate in order to have your MAT in the best position for the next academic year.

The elusive work-life balance

In data from our annual salary survey, a high proportion of education staff (28.01%) chose working hours as the top aspect they would change in order to improve work life balance, 29.32% also said it was the most important factor when considering a new role. However, only 10% of large national MAT chains that offer flexible working, actively encourage all employees to take it up.

It’s evident there is a mismatch in what employees are looking for and what MATs are offering, which is affecting both employee satisfaction and your chances of attracting and retaining talented staff. Although MATs may not be able to offer the same flexibility as other employers, wellbeing and work-life balance are important consideration for your staff. Consider your stance on flexible working and whether this could be a worthwhile option to offer and highlight to staff in your organisation. You would be showing that you’re listening to what the majority of your employees’ want, thus increasing the retention and attraction of staff.


‘It’s evident there is a mismatch in what employees are looking for and what MATs are offering, which is affecting both employee satisfaction and your chances of attracting and retaining talented staff’


Appearances vs. reality

Despite 45.83% of large MATs telling us career development and CPD was the most important aspect (outside salary) that they offered to staff, 50.48% of education professionals said that they felt like they didn’t have scope for career progression in their current organisation. Therefore it’s important to address this discrepancy so you can attract and secure the best teachers and staff for your MAT and education setting. Consider how you showcase the chances for career development, is it obvious for those applying and even staff internally, or reliant on an individual enquiring? A teacher deliberating is much more likely to choose your MAT if they can foresee the support and progression they would receive from you. Be clear about the levels of training available and what staff can achieve from the outset.

Additionally, when reviewing your training offering it is a good opportunity to review what training current staff members undertake. Could they also be offered the chance to upskill themselves? Investing in long term development for your staff is likely to improve retention rates.

It’s right in front of you

You also need to consider the fact that you may already have some of the best talent available - you just need to make the right moves to keep and nurture it. Surprisingly 33.3% of MATs told us that they never counter offer when staff members resign. This is despite the fact that of the MATs who do counter offer staff nearly half of their employees stayed with them for at least another year (43.75%) and 37.5% stayed for up to another year. Making the decision to counter offer could not only help you secure your staff for the future terms, but even save you the cost of replacing them in the first place. Why is the counter offer not on the table in your organisation? If it’s your MAT’s policy, maybe you need to question why when you could be eliminating your own field of teaching talent.


‘…only 7.31% of respondents said they had reviewed recruitment strategies to try and encourage a more diverse range of applicants’


Looking ahead

Finally, whilst you might not see the benefits in time for this academic year, it’s crucial that you try to seriously consider what your MAT can do in order to attract teachers now and in the future. When asked only 7.31% of respondents said they had reviewed recruitment strategies to try and encourage a more diverse range of applicants.

For example, think about the strategies you could employ in your organisation. Whether that be to increase your marketing and social activity in order to strengthen your identity as a MAT and become a recognisable ‘brand’ that education professionals want to work for, or follow the lead of others by hosting open evenings to show an insight into teaching life, with staff on hand to speak to for those considering teaching.

Developing your recruitment strategy won’t be a quick or easy ‘fix’ but it’s important that all MATs and schools consider what they can do in order to improve teacher recruitment and retention by contributing to ease the wider issue at large.

*All data is from Hays Salary Survey

For more information or to discuss your recruitment needs, please contact your local consultant.

About this author

Paul has been with Hays since 1999 and the National Director of Hays Education since 2007. He is responsible for leading experts from 40 offices across the UK who specialise in recruiting for Early Years, Primary, Secondary, SEN, Further Education and Leadership staff on a daily supply, long term supply or permanent basis. His extensive experience is invaluable to ensuring schools, colleges, nurseries, academies and MATs have access to the best possible candidates.

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