Re-branding Norfolk: How to solve county’s teacher recruitment crisis

Headteachers hope their new teacher recruitment strategy will boost education in Norfolk. Photo: Dav

Headteachers hope their new teacher recruitment strategy will boost education in Norfolk. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Headteachers have joined forces to re-brand Norfolk and promote it to graduates across the UK and Ireland in an effort to tackle a recruitment crisis they believe is hampering efforts to improve schools.

Brian Conway, headteacher of Notre Dame High School in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Brian Conway, headteacher of Notre Dame High School in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

The Educate Norfolk campaign, launched today, is an effort to counter Norfolk's poor reputation for education with the slogan 'big skies, bright futures, be part of it'.

It is part of a widespread strategy spearheaded by primary and secondary heads' associations that includes encouraging more trainee teachers, keeping existing teachers in the profession, tempting former teachers to return, and attracting recruits from other countries.

'Early success' for campaign

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The new effort to sell Norfolk was hailed a success after about 200 Irish graduates expressed an interest when it was rolled out at a recruitment fair at the University of Limerick last week.

Brian Conway, chairman of the Norfolk Secondary Education Leaders group, who travelled to Limerick, said: 'There's a real feeling among headteachers that what's good for a school is also good for Norfolk, and vice versa. It's not about competition among schools.

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'Norfolk heads are looking beyond their own schools, and realise the best way they are going to improve their own school is to work together so collectively we can work together and bring more teachers into Norfolk.'

No response to job adverts

In a recent EDP survey, Norfolk heads named recruitment as the biggest problem confronting education in the county.

Jonathan Rice, head of South Wootton Junior School, near King's Lynn, said it was a problem for primary schools outside Norwich, and in secondary schools across the county.

He said: 'People were advertising jobs and either getting no response at all, or no more applications than there were jobs available. Some were being advertised three times without a response.'

He said the problems of schools not having a good range of job applicants, or having to use a succession of supply teachers, harmed children's learning.

The new strategy will see Norfolk heads travel to recruitment fairs across the UK to promote the county as a whole - rather than their own individual schools.

They are also contacting agencies who operate abroad to attract teachers from countries like Canada and Jamaica.

Teachers old and new

The effort also includes the creation of a new website,, to be a single source information about entering teaching and finding jobs in Norfolk.

They plan to boost teacher trainee numbers by encouraging more schools to offer them places, and persuade new teachers stay in the profession by offering more professional development in the years after they first qualify.

They are also drawing up a Return to Teaching programme to tempt teachers who left the profession back into the classroom.

Mr Rice said: 'It shows a determination around the county to raise outcomes for all our young people, which ultimately is what this is about. You will see a commitment about this at all levels. We are talking to councillors, governors, unions representatives and teachers. You can clearly feel the sense of collective determination at every level.'

A Train to be a Teacher event will take place at Notre Dame High School in Norwich from 1pm to 4pm on Saturday, March 21.

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