Attracting staff into a ‘Special Measures’ school

An inadequate Ofsted judgement brings turbulence. And with turbulence comes change. Propelo Director Phil Watt shares his thoughts and practical tips on how to attract the people you need to succeed.


Phil has been leading the talent agenda in education for well over a decade. He’s been called upon to support some of the biggest names in the sector, to help set sustainable recruitment strategies and improve candidate experiences at a regional and national level. As a director here at Propelo, Phil makes sure the talent acquisition strategies we deploy for clients large and small are as effective, innovative and efficient as possible.

In this article, Phil shares how to shape strategies for schools or trusts going through periods of change – and what guidance he gives to leaders who are on a rapid improvement journey.


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Schools and academies going through a period of rapid improvement often have high levels of personnel changes. As a leader, you need to stabilise staffing, stem any reliance on supply and recruit the very best talent available to help you build for the future.

Share your vision

First, you need to attract people who share your vision. You’re looking for those people that will be as determined and passionate as you are.

Be honest

When it comes to shaping your message, this is probably not the time for fluffy statements on pedagogy and values. You need to be honest about the challenges ahead - warts and all.

Authenticity is everything when it comes to an attraction campaign. And the best candidates can sense when they’re not getting a straight line on a situation. They don’t expect to know everything – but whatever you’re saying publicly needs to stack up.

Be engaged

Engagement is your most powerful tool. Commit time to having in-depth, detailed conversations with prospective candidates. They might be few and far between, so when you capture interest from someone that looks credible, remove every barrier you can and ensure that each touchpoint they have with your organisation is high quality and aligned to the rest of your messaging. It says everything about who you are and where you’re going.

Stay choosy

It sounds obvious but now isn’t the time to be lowering your quality threshold and just focusing on getting a bum on a seat. You need to be recruiting the very best talent -capable of driving improvement, at pace.

Pinpoint the opportunity

When we’re partnering with schools or trusts going through this process, we focus on understanding the context and shaping the narrative.

A negative judgement from Ofsted is a clear rationale for change and with change comes opportunity. The right people will recognise that.

Position and structure your attraction campaign in the best way and you’ll get more applications, from people that align much closer to your needs.


If you’d like to talk to Phil directly about the work he and the team deliver nationally, call 01904 567818 or drop him an email:


Phil Watt