Academies Enterprise Trust

Attracting the cream of the crop

“For every 10 applications, there is probably one ideal candidate.” That was the brutal assessment of the recruitment challenge facing Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) when they asked ABA to help them with their employer brand.

Although stark, their challenge was not unusual. Nationwide teacher recruitment targets have been missed for six years in a row, with 81% of schools reportedly struggling with recruitment.

Into that national picture, AET faced a particular challenge as they entered a period of growth: To successfully recruit 1,000 candidates over the coming year.

Answering the killer question

We set off on a journey of giving AET a clear and compelling Employee Value Proposition (EVP) – the piece of the puzzle that would provide an answer to the killer employment question:

‘Why should I work here instead of somewhere else?’

For AET – as for any multi-academy trust (MAT) – the answer to that question is not overly straightforward. The reason? The reality is that when it comes to teacher recruitment, the primary factors will revolve around the ‘offer’ of the school – with the employer Trust playing second fiddle.

Armed with that insight – and with the momentum of a very well received re-launch of the Trust’s vision, mission and values – we began an in-depth listening exercise with staff and teachers across the organisation. Over the course of 3 months, we covered quite a bit of ground within both the Trust and its local schools:

From this piece of research, we came away with some very clear insights to help us answer the following key questions:

1) What is AET truly best at as an employer?
2) What is the perception of AET as a place to work?
3) Where is AET’s employment offer different that of other MATs?

Reaching the heart and the head

When the time came to present our proposed EVP to the senior leadership, we knew we were in a strong position. We had a bold, insight-driven ‘go to market’ strategy that we believe could reach the hearts and the heads of potential recruits – building on the following two pillars of their employee offering:

‘Inspire their remarkable’ – a heartfelt clarion call to potential recruits, chiming with the new organisational vision of ‘launching children into their remarkable lives’.

‘Come here for more’ – a rational breakdown of the ‘more’ that AET is able to offer its recruits, as one of the largest and broadest multi-academy trusts in the country.

Underneath these two pillars, we unpacked the offering in detail – identifying specific ‘proof points’ which AET could communicate to specific roles across the Trust (both central and teaching staff) through a combination of recruitment adverts, candidate information packs and face-to-face interviews.

Bringing the thinking to life

Our final challenge was to bring all of the strategic thinking – and approved messaging – to life within a set of external-facing communications that packed a punch.

From our initial work on the overall Trust vision, we knew the visual identity of employee-facing materials would need to ‘hero’ the children and their potential to be remarkable (captured through a series of images showing children discovering or expressing themselves). We complemented this with the AET ‘building blocks’, a visual device that nodded both to the building effect the schools were having on the children as well as the patchwork of varied schools that made up the AET family.

By the end of the process, we had not only given AET a clear employment offering and a series of tangible assets (interview messaging; recruitment adverts; online recruitment templates; employer brand guidelines) – we had also given them a renewed sense of confidence as they set about the task of filling the 1,000 places with the cream of the crop.

Though the groundwork has only recently been laid – and the road ahead is long – our work on the employer brand has already begun to impact how the organisation views the challenge they face:

“With the new EVP and messaging, everyone feels more confident talking about AET in interviews. We can already see it’s having a positive impact.”

Tanya Bentham, Head of Talent