How schools can become employers of choice

In a competitive environment where demand exceeds supply, the best teachers, leaders and support staff can pick and choose where they will work.

Schools need to become Employers of Choice to retain, attract and compete for talented staff. Demand for quality teachers and leaders is high and will continue to grow. Demand is already exceeding supply and the education system is on the brink of being in a NET deficit as class sizes increase.

Being an ‘Employer of Choice’ simply means becoming an employer whose potential and existing employees want to work for, over and above others in the same marketplace, industry or geographic region.

Teaching is demanding. Engaging, managing and motivating today’s students, requires high levels of skill, energy and intellect. As a result of growing up in a digital age, many of today’s students have shorter attention spans, expect all the ‘bells and whistles’ of full production and demand immediate, personalised attention. That’s not easy in a traditional school environment with finite resources.

Demand for educators who are positive, enthusiastic and dedicated team players is high. The staff of this calibre have a range of employment options and can almost choose which school they would like to work at. When the packages offered are largely comparable, other factors come into consideration.

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1. Benefits

When it comes to retention, research shows us that benefits and development opportunities have a larger impact than pay. A reputation for flexibility can help your school to stand out and it is useful to be explicit in adverts and on websites.

Some examples of this are;

  • Holidays: how much work is required during the holidays? Are holiday dates, frequency and length in line with standard school practice, or are they unusual?
  • Flexibility on leave: what are policies for taking time off during term? How easy is it to get permission for family events, childcare or training?
  • Childcare: is there any support, facility or subsidy for looking after children?
  • Personal development: would the employer support personal studies, such as academic or professional qualifications, or would they subsidise or loan money for these?
  • Housing: does the school offer any support for finding housing, for relocating, or for subsiding costs? Some schools or schools offer their own housing at a much lower fee to teachers, for example.
  • Other benefits: employee discounts for certain purchases (e.g. certain shops or experiences), health and dental care, mental health support, fitness suites, etc.
  • As before, sharing stories can be powerful. Do you have employees who can celebrate a positive story about how they were helped back into flexible working after paternity or maternity, for example? Could you produce a case study of caring for an employee through a family trauma or serious illness, to emphasise how you value wellbeing and treat people with respect?

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2. Work-life balance

Employees will be interested in whether this job will still allow them time to live their own lives. Increasingly, schools are making more out of updated marking, data and lesson-planning policies that save teachers significant time.

Some leading headteachers are making waves on social media and sector publications by sharing their efforts to ensure that staff are out of the building by 6.00pm at the latest and only rarely have to take work home. With these schools increasingly in the limelight, there’s greater pressure on others to showcase their own sustainable workload practices.

School employees remain highly dedicated individuals, happy to go above and beyond, but a better work-life balance is ultimately better for employee and employer to get the best out of everyone.

Some questions to ask yourself about how you manage wellbeing in your school are;

  • Will employees have lunch times protected or will they be expected to work through?
  • What are the expectations on taking work home to do in evenings and weekends?
  • Are there policies on sending or answering out-of-hours emails?
  • How many meetings will there be outside of main commitments?
  • What is the email burden – is it manageable?
  • What extra-curricular activity is expected or encouraged?

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3. Development and recognition

Employees will be interested in the amount of training and learning that they can access. The Teacher Development Trust’s CPD Audit award is often seen in job adverts to signal how seriously some schools take development, while others are trumpeting their success on social media and local newspapers to ensure that their attention to development is visible to potential new recruits.

Employees will be interested in how the appraisal process works. With many schools moving away from graded lesson observation, teachers will be looking out for employers that are up to date in their appraisal practices. This could also include the extent to which teachers are held to account for their students’ exam results – there are so many factors outside of their control that we are hearing of more schools that are dropping hard performance targets and instead of following the evidence toward effort-targets instead.

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The recruitment and retention challenge shows no sign of easing in the next few years so it is increasingly important for schools to take this agenda seriously and not only review and address these areas in-house, but also ensure that they are looking externally for new and improved ways of working through trusted partners, like Opogo. Schools that fail to grasp this nettle could be seriously left behind, but the prize for making it a priority is becoming the Employer of Choice with the sort of reputation that money cannot buy.

If you can adopt a strategy that develops your school’s reputation as an Employer of Choice then you will find people are coming to you, wanting to work for your school and putting the choices in your hands. When partnered with streamlined technology that makes the candidate experience simple and time-efficient for a candidate, you can put your school in a powerful position and ensure that you are winning the fight for top talent.

Opogo’s latest release Opogo Talent is a fresh way for you to save up to 20% off of your current supply spend. This saving can be directly placed into offering some of the suggestions offered above, on top of the added employee perks offered through partnering with Opogo such as; Perk Box, free CPD and Leadership and NQT events.


About the CEO


Justyn Randall

CEO  |  Founder

With extensive experience and strategic skill in building leading global marketing businesses across multiple sectors, Justyn is the CEO and founder of Opogo.

From his deep understanding of the industry and its challenges, Justyn launched Opogo with the prime motivation of transforming the experience of educators within the industry.

Top books for special education (SEND)

It gives a brief breakdown of the content of each one and why they may be useful in practice. I have personally used every book in some way for my own school practice and training and find each one incredibly helpful for different circumstances.

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1. The SENCo Handbook
By Elizabeth Cowne, Carol Frankl and Liz Gerschel

It is always useful, as a new or experienced SENCo to have a handbook to ‘go to’ on the occasions that you are unsure of something. This seventh best-selling edition of ‘The SENCo Handbook’ is updated to reflect the new Code of Practice. It contains statutory guidelines and practical advice in order to help develop effective SEND practice in schools.

2. Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants
By Rob Webster, Anthony Russell (Contributor) and Peter Blatchford (Contributor)

Having used this book myself for staff INSET and training it offers much research and evidence-based guidance about how to effectively deploy teaching assistants and support staff.

The research carried out is detailed and the thing I like about this book is that it provides easily photocopied templates and resources to support decision-making and action planning. There is also a wealth of case studies to give practical and real examples of how to maximize the impact of support staff.

3. Inside I’m Hurting: Practical Strategies for Supporting Children with Attachment Difficulties
By Louise Bomber

This easy to navigate practical guide provides educational professionals with much-needed strategies, practical tools and the confidence for supporting children with attachment difficulties. The book places an emphasis on promoting inclusion in the school system by supporting the whole family.

Chapters within the book include: how attachment difficulties can affect a child’s ability to learn; providing an ‘additional attachment figure’ in schools; the benefits and challenges of getting alongside children who have experienced trauma and loss. The book also includes a photocopiable template for an initial meeting with the parents.

4. Take Control of the Noisy Class: Chaos to Calm in 15 Seconds
By Rob Plevin

This new book by teacher Rob Pelvin is an easy read and is written with humour and understanding. Pelvin has 20+ years’ experience in special education and mainstream settings; in his book, he provides a step-by-step plan for successfully managing the most challenging individuals and groups in today’s toughest classrooms.

Packed with powerful, fast-acting techniques – including a novel routine to get any class quiet in 15 seconds or less – this book helps teachers across all age groups connect and succeed with hard-to-reach, reluctant learners.

5. When the Adults Change, Everything Changes
By Paul Dix

This new book shows that it’s far more effective to change the behaviour of the adults in a school than it is to try to change the behaviour of the children. Dix draws on his own experience as a teacher, leader and trainer who has spent 25 years working in some of the most challenging schools, referral units and colleges.

Having firsthand experience of one of Paul Dix’s training sessions, this is powerful stuff and in this book, he manages to capture ‘real’ case studies alongside tried-and-tested strategies that have been used in a range of schools with a variety of backgrounds. The book demonstrates how these approaches place the focus back on adults and reiterate the importance of simple human interaction. Most importantly, it provides a clear message about the importance of children knowing who they can trust.

6. Learn to Read for Kids with Dyslexia: 101 Games and Activities to Teach Your Child to Read
By Hannah Braun M

Learn to Read for Kids with Dyslexia makes reading enjoyable and rewarding with fun-filled games and activities that teach children how to read fluently and confidently. Specifically designed for children aged 7-12, these engaging activities offer children daily opportunities to practice and hone their reading skills.

The book highlights areas such as, skill building in phonemic awareness and dysgraphia for each activity; it also allows parents and teachers to focus on strengthening specific areas that will help children become lifelong readers.

7. The Red Beast: Controlling Anger in Children with Asperger’s Syndrome
By K.I. Al-Ghani

“Deep inside everyone, a red beast lies sleeping. When it is asleep, the red beast is quite small, but when it wakes up, it begins to grow and grow. This is the story of a red beast that was awakened.”
This is an illustrated children’s storybook which was written for children aged 5+.

I have used it myself with many autistic children, as it is so accessible. I also find reading it and talking about anger in a fun way useful to help children with tips about how to ‘tame their red beast’. I also signpost parents to this book so that they can further understand how anger affects children with Asperger’s Syndrome.


About our Community Expert


Rachel Endacott

Community Expert
Rachel has over 21 years of teaching experience in a range of primary, junior and special provision settings. Rachel has held various leadership roles including Deputy Head Teacher and is currently Head of Inclusion in an outstanding Junior School in Maidenhead. Rachel has held the title of SENDCo for over 20 years and is passionate about helping every individual reach their full potential.

Recently recognised by Ofsted as having the skills to ensure staff take ownership of the support and progress of pupils with SEND, they also praised her ability to imbue staff with a desire to do the right thing for these pupils.

Her drive and ambition continue to improve the exceptional support within her own setting and Rachel’s satisfaction comes from seeing children with SEND thrive.

Webinar | Becoming a Subject Leader in Primary School

Becoming a Subject Leader in Primary School with Jasmin Choudhury | Tuesday 25 June 2019 | Webinar

Event description

Leading a subject area effectively is one of the most important tasks in securing high-quality teaching and learning in the classroom. Whether you have years of experience in that particular curriculum area, have a passion for that subject or you are stepping into your first leadership role, having the motivation and resilience to master new challenges as well as finding new and innovative ways of teaching will ensure your teaching has an impact.

Looking to successfully lead in a Primary setting? Join Community Expert Jasmin Choudhury as she takes you through her tried and tested strategies for effectively leading a subject area in school by giving you the skills to take the reins confidently.


What will be covered?

Throughout her session, Jasmin will talk you through the key areas of subject leadership, including:

• What to do if you want to be a subject leader?

• Why be a subject leader?

• Why are subject leaders important in schools?

• Your first steps as a subject leader.

• Developing monitoring techniques as a subject leader.

• Embedding passion, excellence and enjoyment of your subject.

• What to do if you are leading a subject you don’t enjoy.

• The importance of stakeholders in promoting your subject and holding you accountable.

• Preparing for Ofsted as a subject leader.

• Next steps after being a subject leader.

Who will benefit?

Aspiring leaders, NQTs, Year 3+ qualified teachers, middle leaders holding a subject and foreign teachers with specialisms.



When will the event take place?



Date: Tuesday 25 June 2019
 5:30pm – 6:30pm
Location: Online

Click here to book your free place now.


Speaker Profile: Jasmin Choudhury


Skilled in Coaching, Secondary Education, Classroom Management, Learning Environment, and Lesson Planning, Richard Endacott is an experienced teacher and Head of Humanities at Drayton Manor High School.

Richard is one of the Community Experts here at Opogo helping to lead our development workshops through his strong track record of delivering outcomes.

What is a Talent Pool and why should I use one?

This week Opogo has launched our brand new Talent section of the Web App. This new series of features enables you to source, offer and manage new and existing candidates in a few simple clicks. Interested? Keep reading.

What is a Talent Pool?

Generally speaking, a Talent Pool is a dynamic portfolio of people who you have worked, are thinking of working or you prospectively are looking to hire to join your organisation. The idea is to compliantly keep candidate details on file until the relevant job becomes available. 

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How do I manage one?

Creating bespoke Talent Pools to fulfil all of your current resourcing needs has never been easier. Through the Opogo platform you can now start searching through hundreds of fully-vetted teachers and classroom assistants using the new Talent Management feature.

Whether you’re looking within your existing Talent Pool, through the candidates recommended for you by the Opogo consultant team or searching the full Opogo membership, you can now see each potential hires profile, compliance, skills and availability and can offer them work in three simple clicks.

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How do I attract the right candidates?

Recruiting the right person is difficult, which is why, when you spot someone good, you’ll want to hold onto their details for future reference. However, how do you go about attracting the right people in the first place?

The key is understanding the skills profile of the person you are looking for and matching against that. Not just being offered a list of people deemed suitable.

This is why we’re giving our clients access to our membership through the Opogo Web App, so you can source and view all candidates, to give you total transparency if finding the right candidates for you.

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What are the real benefits of using a Talent Pool?

The biggest advantage of having your own Talent Pool is the reduced time-to-hire as well as lower recruitment costs.  Having a well-structured record of candidates could support you and help you to fill vacancies quickly.

To make the process easier, speak to one of the Opogo team to get you set up on the Opogo Talent pool.

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Opogo Talent will shave off hours of time from the recruitment process for educators and schools through its innovative transparency and 3-click interface.


To find out more about how Opogo Talent can benefit you, visit for more information


About the CEO


Justyn Randall

CEO  |  Founder

With extensive experience and strategic skill in building leading global marketing businesses across multiple sectors, Justyn is the CEO and founder of Opogo.

From his deep understanding of the industry and its challenges, Justyn launched Opogo with the prime motivation of transforming the experience of educators within the industry.

Tips for handling an Ofsted inspection

Although it is only natural to enter panic mode after that dreaded phone call, you need to look at the inspection from a different perspective. Get out there and do what you do…and do it well. Embrace it.

Use this as an opportunity to show off your professionalism, outstanding teaching and fantastic pupils.

For those of you seeking guidance, here are a few tips to help you survive the inspection:

1. Be yourself

Try to get through the day as normally as possible. Your pupils will try to act up if you try to change your teaching style or methods, so be confident in your ability and be yourself. Avoid experimenting with your teaching methods or changing the classroom around, as it might unsettle or alarm the pupils.

Of course, it won’t be a normal day when Ofsted inspectors are walking in and out of your classroom, but just try and do what you would usually do to keep pupils, and yourself, calm.

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2. Focus on books

When I was training as an NQT, I remember being told that it didn’t matter how outstanding my lesson was, if my books weren’t impeccable. Ofsted inspectors want to see pupil progress over time, not just in the lesson so focus on your marking.

Your formative and summative assessment and pupils’ response to feedback is clear evidence of this progress. Make sure you are setting clear targets for your pupils and that they are responding to them accordingly.

3. Keep it in perspective

Ofsted is every teacher’s nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be. Think of it as another observation by your subject or professional mentor. Even if you teach the worst possible lesson, it is unlikely to affect the entire rating of the school.

Instead, use this as a learning experience and opportunity to develop as a professional. According to Ofsted guidance, if an inspector observes you for 20 minutes, you can ask for formal feedback.

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4. Lay the groundwork

Middle and senior leaders look at the prospect of an Ofsted inspection from a different perspective and have other challenges and pressures to face. However, if the SLT has laid the foundations successfully and you, as a classroom teacher, have done the groundwork too – half the battle is won, even before the inspectors walk through the door. You should always be ‘Ofsted inspection ready’ as a classroom teacher.

5. Be prepared

Brush up on the school code of conduct and behaviour policy, organise your class books and take a moment to breathe. You might get asked for an entire class set of books, so have them ready for each lesson you teach.

Read the Ofsted guidance and be clear of what is expected from you. The most recent Ofsted guidance is very clear about what inspectors can do and ask to see. They cannot ask to see planning and they do not expect to see a certain type or amount of marking. So prepare what you can.

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The intense culture of scrutiny that most schools in the UK have – good or bad – have trained us for this moment. With learning walks and book scrutiny, formal observations are never that far away for most teachers, so you should be well prepared for Ofsted at any time.

Ofsted has nothing up their sleeves, it’s just another observation. So, teach the best lesson that you can. Focus on planning lessons the pupils can enjoy, let the adrenaline take over and try to enjoy showing off what you can really do in a classroom!



About our Community Expert


Simi Rai
Community Expert

Over 5 years of experience in educational settings throughout London, Madrid and Barcelona. Whilst studying English Literature and Language at King’s College London and the University of North Carolina, she fell in love with her subject – both the study of literature and craft of writing.

After graduating, she completed the Leadership Development Programme with Teach First, whose mission is to provide equality through education, and attained her PGCE in Secondary English at Canterbury Christ Church University. She was then appointed as Deputy Head of English at one of the highest performing schools in England in a London inner-city academy.

Following this, she completed her Leadership and Management MA at University College London (Institute of Education) and became the director of an English Language company based in Barcelona.