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15th Sep, 2023

David J Anderson
David J Anderson
Job Title
Executive Regional Director
Reed - Education

Teaching is a testing and rewarding profession that requires a combination of skill, knowledge, passion, and dedication.

Finding the right teachers for your school can make a huge difference in the quality of education and wellbeing of your students and staff, however, hiring teachers is not an easy task, especially in the competitive and diverse market we’re currently in.

To identify the teachers to best suit your needs, thorough assessments can help you evaluate potential staff and how they conduct themselves on the job.

The qualities of an effective teacher

There is no definitive answer to what makes an effective teacher, as different contexts and subjects may require different approaches and styles. What makes a great science teacher is wholly different from what makes a good languages teacher – however, there are some qualities that are evident throughout all roles.

When identifying the right teachers for your school, consider the following qualities:

Subject knowledge

One of the key components of a quality teacher is their depth of knowledge and passion for their subject area, and ability to explain it clearly and accurately to students. They also should have a broad and balanced curriculum knowledge and be able to link their subject to other areas of learning – helping progress their students academically in a number of ways.

Pedagogical skills

Across all subjects, teachers use a variety of methods, approaches and strategies to engage and motivate their students, from learning a new topic to exam preparation. They plan and deliver well-structured lessons that are aligned with the learning objectives and outcomes set by both the exam board and school, while also using assessment for learning to monitor and support their students’ progress and provide feedback throughout.

Classroom management

A primary focus of any teacher is to create a positive and safe learning environment where students feel respected and valued. They establish clear rules and routines and deal with any behavioural issues calmly and fairly – allowing them to foster positive relationships with their students and colleagues, while communicating effectively with parents and carers.


Education isn’t just for students – teachers that want to excel should be committed to their own professional development and reflect on their methods regularly. They also collaborate with other professionals around the school – even beyond the classroom – to share good practice, learn from each other, and enhance the learning experiences of their students.

The challenges when hiring teachers

Who you choose to hire for your school can impact students’ futures – it's no wonder the task comes with challenges, but what exactly are these challenges?

Shortage of teachers

There continues to be a recruitment crisis among schools in the UK, with a high turnover rate of teachers leaving the profession, meaning the gap between supply and demand remains wide and in need of addressing.

Some subjects such as maths, science, and languages are particularly hard to recruit for – making it essential to attract and retain the right members of staff from the outset.

Ease of process

It is likely that you will be recruiting for new teachers at the same time as several other local schools. Consider teachers applying for multiple opportunities and the process they complete for each, how can you ensure that your process is both thorough yet efficient and straightforward? Do you ask for feedback about your recruitment process from prospective teachers?

Reviewing the process each year to continuously improve will help applicant flow in these challenging times.

Teacher career progression

The demand for excellent teachers in schools remains high, which has created a jobs market where teachers can afford to be selective about where they apply. With this in mind, you may need to offer competitive salaries, benefits, incentives, career progression opportunities and working conditions to stand out, but make sure you have the right personnel in mind.

The quality of teachers is one of the most important factors influencing student outcomes, which highlights the importance of consistent and rigorous standards.

There is also a need for continuous professional development and support for teachers throughout their careers, providing the opportunity for them to develop in their roles, which may lead to increased retention.

Assessing teacher qualities during hiring

To alleviate some of the pressures around hiring, there are various types of assessment designed to identify teaching qualities – depending on the role, level and context of the position – to ensure you make the right choice for your school and your students.

It's also important to showcase a true picture of the school to prospective teachers, allowing them to make the right decision when choosing a new opportunity and therefore positively impacting retention.


Once you’ve sifted through the applications and selected the candidates to progress further, make sure the interview stage allows you to explore the candidates’ suitability for the role and their fit within your school’s vision, values and culture.

You should prepare a set of questions that probe deeper into the candidates’ knowledge, skills, management style and professionalism, while giving them the opportunity to ask questions about the role and the school.

It’s apparent that attrition rates are high in the early years of a teaching career, with close to a third of teachers leaving the profession within their first five years. To secure their services and loyalty, it may be worth reiterating the financial and developmental incentives you can offer during the interview.

Lesson observation

One of the best ways of understanding a teacher’s capabilities is through lesson observations, assessing how they interact with the students, use resources, manage behaviour, and assess learning. They can also reveal how the candidate responds to challenges, adapts to different contexts, and aligns with the school's vision and values.

Lesson observations are not meant to be intimidating or stressful for the candidate, but rather an opportunity to showcase their strengths and areas for improvement. They are also a chance for the candidate to experience the school culture and environment, and to interact with the students and staff.

Written task

Never underestimate a written task. It’s a useful way to assess candidates’ literacy skills, alongside their subject, curriculum, and pedagogical knowledge. You should ask candidates to complete a written task on a relevant topic or issue related to the role or subject area, evaluating their content, structure, and originality.

You want to make an informed decision about a candidate that will hopefully serve your school in the long term – which makes conducting thorough hiring processes essential. Once your chosen candidate is in post, pay close attention to how they settle in during their probation period, raising any concerns early on about their style and how they work within your school environment.

Final thoughts

Hiring effective teachers is a crucial task for any school that wants to provide high-quality education and achieve positive outcomes. Through careful planning and redefining your recruitment strategy, you can hopefully improve your talent acquisition process and find the right teachers for your school.

If you are looking to hire teaching staff, get in touch with our specialist education recruiters today.