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Our Principal Writes: Staff Recruitment

31 October 2014

At BISS Puxi we talk about the “Pirelli factor “which comes from a famous Pirelli tyre advert with a sports car performing amazing maneuvers on the roof of a sky scraper.

The message being that it is the tyres’ contact with the road surface that is the key to the car’s performance. The same is true in high performing schools like ours where it is the rubber on the road, or in our world the day to day engagement between the teacher and the students, which is the key relationship. It is the teachers who inspire and motivate the students in their care and support each of our students as academic athletes, challenging them each day to improve upon their own previous personal best.

The Nord Anglia Education (NAE) Tanzanian Student Programme and the exciting community service experience it offers is just one example of the huge benefits that come from being a member of the NAE family of schools which currently number thirty one around the globe.

NAE has become the world’s leading provider of premium and contemporary education and a big part of our success is the quality of the staff that the organisation can attract. We have made a conscious decision to sharpen and develop our recruitment processes to ensure that we can attract, develop and retain the best teachers and school leaders available. Over the last couple of years I have had the privilege of being involved in the setting up of a recruitment system entitled Outstanding Teachers for Outstanding Schools (OTOS) for our schools. I served on the steering group for this initiative with other experienced heads and HR professionals from our central services in Hong Kong.

OTOS features a series of processes designed to give us an edge in selecting the best staff. Carefully written adverts in the leading recruitment journals like the TES and the Guardian newspaper backed up by an HR Recruitment software package resulted last year in 10,000 candidates applying for the 300 jobs vacancies across the family of schools in 2013-14.

We have also developed a searching interview process, involving a number of staff, with questions designed to delve beneath the polished interview techniques of many candidates to ensure we understand their deep seated attitudes and beliefs and their intrinsic motivation. Interviews are, as far as possible, face to face and a significant proportion take place in London in December and again in January at our own NAE annual recruitment fair. Other interviews will normally be conducted on site in Shanghai and if not, then by Skype.

Our processes also feature detailed follow up on references both written and verbal to ensure we get the fullest picture possible of the individual’s strengths and weaknesses and development potential. Often a personal call from a senior member of staff to the previous school administration reveals a great deal of impactful information. We also have in place very high levels of diligence in undertaking police background checks on all successful applicants before they join our schools.

It is in practice a year long process which begins with adverts in November 2014 for vacancies in August 2015 and is completed by a much celebrated and appreciated staff induction process which begins when staff are appointed through to the two weeks at the beginning of August when new staff arrive in Shanghai.

No stone is left unturned in ensuring that we get the best and most suitable staff for the vacancies that we have each year. We have a turnover of staff of about 15% per annum which is low by international school standards and provides a healthy balance of continuity and regular injections of new blood from other high quality schools in the UK and overseas.

I will keep you informed about the progress of the annual recruitment process and we will in due course publish pen portraits of the successful applicants on our website.

- Kevin Foyle, Principal