British international schools are in an “incredibly difficult and challenging market” for teacher recruitment and need to find innovative ways to attract the very best staff, a major conference has heard.
Ian Hunt, chair of governors at Haileybury Kazakhstan, told the IPSEF Global conference that the central Asian state was “one of those ugly ducklings” because of people’s ignorance and preconceptions. In fact, he said, the stunning scenery and quality of life in Kazakhstan is “as good as anywhere in the world”.
It didn’t matter, he said, how successful the school was, if Western teachers were not convinced about coming to work in that country, which has to compete with more obviously attractive destinations such as Thailand.
He said at the event in London: “We have to think about how we sell ourselves and it doesn’t matter that we are highly successful, that we send children onto Harvard, Oxford, MIT, Cambridge… because the teachers that are going to be applying to the school don’t necessarily know you as well as we know ourselves.”
He referred to the “scary” data on teacher training and recruitment in the UK, including only 60 per cent of the UK secondary initial teacher training targets being met in 2022/23 and a 40 per cent decline in Western teachers entering the international sector.
“There is a huge demand for high quality teachers because that’s what our brands demand. Without those high quality teachers you won’t get the outcomes,” said Hunt.
Hunt showed the audience of international education professionals how Haileybury had used software from Kampus24, which enables schools to put together tailored platforms for job applicants featuring video content relevant to that job and life in the country.
Potential applicants can instantly “meet” members of the team, hear from the head of HR about the practicalities of living in Kazakhstan and hear from other staff about different aspects of life and work.
“As schools who are operating in this sector we have to think about what it is that we can do to grab the attention of the individual teacher who has the global market to choose from,” he said.
“We can offer mountains, lakes, the great outdoors, the quality of the environment and the life is as good as anywhere in the world, but how on earth are we going to be able to show that?
“That was our challenge. Every single school in every jurisdiction will have different challenges. There will be something to put somebody off, unless you offset that challenge in the way that you attract the teachers.”
He added that “flat adverts” and social media posts were no longer enough in a competitive market.
“There’s got to be something different,” he said.