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Stage 3 – Offers

“The future depends on what you do today.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Lost Time

The time when an offer is accepted and the staff member arrives is often lost time. Whilst respecting your new teacher has a job to finish at their current school, this is a time to start drip-feeding information to assist in their preparation both physically and emotionally to move to your school.  

Reject Kindly

You will have to write a lot more rejection emails than you will acceptance. Nobody likes writing them and nobody likes reading them. 

Please do NOT ever send a blanket bcc email to all rejected candidates with the words ‘Dear Applicant…’. It is the single most lack of respect one can do, after ignoring applications and not sending anything! On average, an application will take at least 15-20 minutes for those candidates who cut and paste and do not personalise their application. For those who do, it can take between 1-2 hours. Please show them some respect for their time and put their name on the rejection email. Yes, we may have 100+ applications, but you have a PA at the least who can put the name on the email and send the rejection email. 

The international market is small; would you rather people spoke about excellent personalised communication even when rejected or that you saw them as a number. 

It is crucial to remember that the teaching circuit, particularly internationally, is a very small world and people talk. 

Therefore, you need to handle this well. This candidate may not be right for this role or your school but it does not mean their friend or colleague in the future isn’t. You do not want this rejected candidate to speak ill of your school, you or your application process.

Do's

– Highlight the candidates strengths. 

– Give them a few reasons why they were not selected. This is hard to hear for some but if they want to improve it is the right medicine. 

– Genuinely wish them well. 

– If possible, and for more senior positions, call them as it is much more personable. 

If they would be a good cultural fit but not right for this role, encourage them to apply again – if they are not, do not lie!

– Connect with great potential employees on social media

– Candidate experience survey – Asking your candidates for feedback shows that you care about their opinion and respect what they have to say. Don’t just ask successful candidates.

Do Not's

– Go beyond the time you stated you would give an answer by. If you need more time, let the applicant know and apologise for keeping them waiting. 

– If you can’t imagine the candidate working in your company at any stage then do not give them false hope. Wish them all the best in the future and leave it at that. Candidates will always appreciate your candor.

– NEVER settle for somebody who is the best of a bad bunch! 

– Don’t use the word rejected: Say instead, “The selection team has decided that they will not pursue your candidacy further.

– Make sure the applicant cannot misconstrue the words you use or find evidence of unlawful discrimination. For example, you may be tempted to tell the applicant that you have decided that you have candidates who are more qualified for the job. The candidate could well ask you to detail the differences.

Click here for examples of great rejection letters

Offers

These are the best emails to write, but do not forget that the candidate may still have a few offers to choose from. 

At this point you need to be transparent. What you should send:

– A personalised email stating the strengths of the candidate, what you believe they can bring to the team, and a message about their family (include names) if applicable. 

– Formal offer letter outlining salary, benefits such as paying for all visa costs (see below), and basic working conditions (see it as a mini-contract).

– Your salary scale for your school and where the candidate will enter. If this is not shared and salaries are inconsistent then this will create another problem in itself. I spoke with numerous teachers who had friends who were offered the same job at the same school but the salary offered was different. What does this say about your school? Whilst money is important it should not be the only motivator. If a candidate notices that you pay slightly less than a competitor,  and this is a reason to reject your position, is this the type of person who is motivated by money at your school in the first place? Furthermore, a school I experienced sent out their salary scale before the interview and when I asked why they did this they informed me that “… if money is the deal-breaker I don’t want to waste my time interviewing them!”

– Welcome booklet from the school or a living in (your location) guide. 

– Send the offer with the offer letter. If there is a message of ‘… the offer letter will follow’ this gives off a very unprepared image of your school. 

This will show the candidate that you are open, clear and upfront about the offer. Sending a welcome guide will also show that you care and could be the difference between them taking your offer over another school’s. 

Many staff have reported that the school would not contribute to the cost of legalizing documents for their visa, they had to pay for their own visa and/or were made to pay for other expenses. There is no surer way of showing a new member of staff how unimportant they are or that they should be privileged to be working at your school than doing this. My first school in Vietnam paid for everything; including my train tickets to the embassies in England to get my documents processed. Another school gave us their courier account number so all documents could be sent using the school’s account. As a teacher mentioned to me in my research; their school paid for the staff to go on safari near their school. The teacher noted that this was at great expense (we are not recommending you must do this!) but the investment went a long way to assisting the stress when other things did not go to plan at their school. 

Let’s be clear here, if you are making the new employee feel that they have to pay towards joining your school this is not the message of support that should be expected of a top-class organisation. 

Acceptance of Offer

Great, the candidate believes that you are the right fit for them and wants to join you! 

They now become a member of your team and should treated as one!

You need to get that contract to them right away. A colleague of mine rejected a job as it took them over a month to get a contract to them and was offered a position at a rival school who showed much more eagerness to employ him. It was also reported to me that one school did not even give the actual contract until two-months into employment at the new school. 

Taking that huge leap to move themselves, and often their families, to a different country involved a lot of risk. Having a signed contract from the school goes a long way to relieving this worry. 

This is now when you can really begin to induct your new staff member into life in and around your school. 

Also, you can send out a survey which will allow you to get to know your staff better – click here for an example you can use. 

One final thing to stress is that you must respect that your new member of staff is still contracted to their current school and has a obligation to give the children at that school the very best they can give. Therefore, things you send to the new employee should be drip-fed but consistent. 

Plan of Arrival

Don’t forget – many, if not most, of your new staff will have never visited your school before. Therefore, it is crucial that you give them a good picture before they arrive. 

Is is possible that they visit your school? It is good practice, where possible, for the new member of staff to have visited your campus before employment but this is not always possible. Can they visit themselves before they arrive? At my current school I was able to visit before I joined, I met the Senior Leadership Team, spent a day in school and was taken out for dinner that evening. All transportation cost were covered. This was a very good start to life at this school! 

Click here for an example of a plan of arrival. 

Celebrate Appointments

One way schools are sharing their pride of new appointments with their parents and the wider community is to celebrate the appointments of new staff on social media. This is done as they are appointed and the benefits go a long way to demonstrating to the new staff how important they are to you. 

Don’t forget – many, if not most, of your new staff will have never visited your school before. Therefore, it is crucial that you give them a good picture before they arrive. 

Is is possible that they visit your school? It is good practice, where possible, for the new member of staff to have visited your campus before employment but this is not always possible. Can they visit themselves before they arrive? At my current school I was able to visit before I joined, I met the Senior Leadership Team, spent a day in school and was taken out for dinner that evening. All transportation cost were covered. This was a very good start to life at this school! 

Click here for an example of a plan of arrival. 

Policies / School Development Plan

As previously stated, the new member of staff is now a member of your team. The worst thing to do is to overload someone at this stage and on arrival. Therefore, key policies should be shared with your staff but not all in one go! Drip-feed them as part of your arrival plan. 

Key policies to share (not an exhaustive list):

Safeguarding and Child Protection, Whistleblowing, Teaching and Learning, curriculum specific policies, Code of Conduct (children and staff), behaviour policy, assessment policy, marking and feedback policy, staff wellbeing, appraisal policy. 

In the mode of transparency and valuing staff input into the development of the school, good practice would suggest that you share your current School Development Plan. This will give the new member of staff ways in which they can make quick wins upon arrival and offer their expertise where appropriate. 

Some schools have given their new recruits their own school email address which demonstrated a real ‘part of the team’ feel right away. You can ensure that this email account can only email within your school domain until they arrive at your school to protect your school before they arrive. 

10 Areas of Induction

From my research we found that any new staff member has ten main areas that they need a good understanding. These will vary in the level of detail but each should be planned into the induction. It should be noted that even number 10 (Religion) was the lowest ranked area, out of all my respondents to my survey five put this area in their top three most important areas. So, all of these will vary in levels of importance to different staff but they will all be important across all of your staff, so do not just skip one because you feel that’s not important. 

You can begin with many of them right away. 

  1.  Philosophy 
  2. Curriculum 
  3. Culture of the Schools Location
  4. Financial Expectations
  5. Social Opportunities
  6. Information of the city/country the school is located in
  7. Parental Culture
  8. Local language/s
  9. Weather Climate
  10. Religion 
 
This is not an exhaustive list and you do not need to complete each and every one of them (click the image to access)

Communication

Communication is so important to the success of the induction of your new staff! 

If you can prepare and have systems in place then keeping the member of staff informed and prepared well in advance will go a long way to their happiness. I’ve heard horror stories of schools ignoring emails, telling new staff to stop asking so many questions, HR being rude and unhelpful, staff not told when their flights are until two-weeks before they were supposed to leave… do not fall into this trap!

Be clear and direct with all members of staff who will communicate with the new staff. This is one of the first times they get to see how efficient you are, how you value the worries of your staff and how much you care. 

– Set up a social media communication group for informal updates such as WhatsApp, WeChat etc. But, be specific in the aim of this communication. 

– Open a Facebook group for new staff and existing staff to connect

– Ensure the new staff has at least one buddy. Remember, new staff will not want to ask the ‘menial’ questions to HR or somebody in SLT. They need to ask somebody who they will work alongside or has a similar family arrangement. 

– Do not send everything all at once, this is overwhelming especially when sending policies. 

– Regular, short and concise communication from your school to the new staff.

– If your staff handbook is 80+ pages do you think staff will absorb all of this information? Can it be shorter?

– Many people informed us that answers to their questions were a simple ‘no!’ Again, demonstrate effort and transparency in giving a simple reason why. 

Newsletter

From my research this was a popular suggestion that had been successful at many schools.

This will take some effort and organising on your staffs’ part but what an amazing impact it would have on the new staff.

You could create a monthly welcome newsletter which is sent to new staff which would include:

– Photos of current events, new areas of the school, learning highlights.

– Advice columns from current staff

– Second-hand items current staff are selling

– Professional Development (e.g. if your school is a PYP school have some articles on this, or if you use Talk for Writing in English in the Primary School, have an article and link about this.)

– New appointments with a brief introduction

– Contact details of key people within your school.

– Wellbeing activities you currently offer (this would be an excellent way for staff to see that you truly value them).

– Link certain policies (a way of drip-feeding the policies instead of sending them out separately.)

Archive the newsletters as staff will be recruited at different times.

Click here for an example format of a newsletter

Staff Biographies / Videos

Whilst we talk a lot here about the staff being inducted we have to remember that the children will want to see the new staff arriving next year, as will current staff. Whilst schools vary when they tell their children which teacher or tutor they have you can show children the staff who will be in that year group next year. 

Send your staff a set of questions (click here) or a survey to get to know them better as noted above (click here)  to answer in their videos and you can show this to the children and put the information as a biography on your website. This should not be left until four weeks into the new school year. Do it as they are appointed, share on your social media channels new appointments. 

Have an area on your website for new staff, as this goes a long way to showing them that you truly value them. Ask them for a professional and a casual photo that you wish to publish. This does two things:

1. Demonstrates how much you value the member of staff and that you want to ‘show them off.’

2. Let’s parents and current staff have a quick look at who the new members of the team are for next year. It gives current staff good conversations starters when they meet the new staff e.g. “I hear that you love to mountain bike, I would be happy to show you some local tracks…”

Video of your School

Creating a video of your school, life at your school and living in your town/city/country is a compelling way to showcase the type of teacher, staff member your are looking for. You can model the type of language you use, the philosophy of the school and an eye into their new life at your school. This is particularly important for children in seeing their new school, they new teachers and friends. 

This can also be on your school website on the prospective teachers or careers page. 

A video of life at your school, with staff and children interviewed is such a powerful way to show the new staff their surroundings, life at your school and the type of teacher or leader you expect them to be. 

Have videos of lessons so new staff can see the type of learning that goes on in your school. 

Highlight the after-school activities, sporting opportunities, quick tour of your school, the accomodation they are likely to move into… This list is clearly endless but it is such an excellent way of any prospective or incoming staff member to get a ‘feel’ for your school. 

Video Calls with Staff

At this point it is good to put the new hire in contact with their relevant deputy, academic buddy and social buddy. From experience and my research having a video call at this point is very effective with these people (not necessarily all together or with all of them). Allowing the new staff to see a new face in a more relaxed, non-interview, way is an effective way to put the new recruit at ease. 

What information staff want to know before they arrive

Prior to arrival

  • Likely flight date – Whilst this may not yet be know the approximate date should be shared so staff can plan their summer holidays accordingly. 
  • Start date and induction period. 
  • Relocation support – This could be done via a relocator in your city, a WhatsApp group or a place where people can ask questions. 
  • Visa Process – Brief overview of what this will look like. At one school I worked at the head of HR called me via Skype to explain the process in person. A very good start to the year. 
  • Buddies for staff and children
  • Child school registration (if applicable) – Make this smooth for the family. Often this gets overlooked. Do you have an online form? The children are the number one concern of most families so ensure you get this area finalised. 
  • School clothes – cost for children and how to get them. Can you spread the cost of this for them in the first few months? Can you supply one set of what the children will need? 
  • Cost of Living – brief overview
  • Staff Handbook & Relevant Polices (drip-feed!)

Arrival at School

  • Timings of induction – allow a few days after arrival before induction begins for new staff
  • What to wear at induction
  • Wellbeing Activities at school / Workload Charter
  • Childcare provided during induction and first few weeks (last thing they want to worry about but most important to get full attention)
  • Timetable of teaching lessons – this can be a current timetable from their department even if it is likely to change. Ensure you include duties, after-school commitments and meetings.

Outside School

  • Accommodation they first arrive at (is this the best start to life at your school?
  • Social Opportunities
  • Housing – give photos, Google Map, some choice (if possible), housing agents, neighbours, second-hand furniture. This needs to be done as soon as possible. Staff need to visualise where they will live, what they need to bring, is the apartment furnished, semi-furnished? It was a bit of a shock when I arrived at one school and my apartment was simply a shell with not even a bed to be seen. 
  • Airport pick up – How are the staff getting from the airport to their hotel? Most good schools pick the new staff up but the really excellent schools have a member of SLT there to greet the staff when they arrive. Also, do not have the staff wait around for hours at the airport for the next flight to arrive; send another van/car!
  • Transportation upon arrival – can you buy/rent a car? Provide these detail

Culture Shock

Do not underestimate the power of culture shock even if the new recruit has lived abroad for many years. Research suggests that it impacts us all in different levels when arriving at a new school. 

Click here for my article on culture shock and what you can do assist your new staff when they arrive.