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Workforce Planning for Schools and Multi-Academy Trusts

The Department for Education has recently updated it’s guidance for School Workforce Planning. As it explains all schools and Multi-Academy Trusts should be able to consider all options available to them to maximise the efficiency of staff and best utilise the budgets available. But what are the options and what should you consider?

The CIPD describe workforce planning as being “a core process of human resource management that is shaped by the organisational strategy and ensures the right number of people with the right skills, in the right place at the right time to deliver short- and long-term organisation objectives”. And, really that is what it is all about. Ensuring that the right people have the right skills for your organisation and are doing the right roles.

For any organisation it is important to effectively manage your people and resources, but if you are a school forming a Multi-Academy Trust, the main economies of scale are often seen through centralising leadership and supporting teams and joint procurement of supplies and services. However, has it been decided who will do this and how will it be handled so that the impact on schools in the Trust is managed positively?

The basis of effective workforce planning is accurate information, understanding of roles and how they link in an organisation in order to analyse the impact of change and ensure systems and processes are effectively supporting the daily operational requirements of each Academy in the Trust and ultimately their success as educational institutions.

Strong leaders will be able to explain the rationale for change. Managers will need to work out the implications, help shape the change and provide support. Involving all staff in meaningful conversations, allowing them to be part of the change and identifying the impact on their role/department is essential. Change works best when employees are involved.

So what should you consider, according to the DfE:

  • Effective school workforce planning is not solely about examining the number of staff – it should lead to the more effective and efficient use of existing staff.
  • There is no single staff structure, or approach, to reviewing staffing that will suit all schools.
  • Contextual factors, including funding, pupil demographics, and school improvement priorities play an important part.
  • To avoid unnecessary staffing changes, schools should aim to plan their staffing over 3 to 5 years. This allows them, for example, to take natural staff turnover into account when planning for future changes to staff structures.
  • What is the best balance between teachers and support staff? Could teaching assistants (TAs) and other classroom-based support staff be used in more targeted ways, such as working in teams across year groups?
  • Could non-classroom-based support staff be deployed more effectively and efficiently? Can some roles be merged, or can support staff be shared with other schools? Do they have the right skills and status?
  • Is the balance right between classroom teachers and the leadership team? How may this need to change over the next 3 to 5 years? Are the roles of middle leaders clearly defined?
  • Does the mix of subject specialist teachers, particularly in secondary schools, match curriculum requirements?
  • Can existing staff be trained to meet shortages in other subjects at the right level? Can staff be shared across schools or settings?
  • Consider the skills and level of experience of existing staff and look at the possible opportunities for development for leaders and staff.

This is not an extensive list, just the start of a few options to consider as part of workforce planning. The guidance includes a full list of options for school leaders to consider, including questions when reviewing their staff structures, an example timeline and links to advice, case studies and tools for school leaders to use. To access the full report click here.

For Multi-Academy Trusts, as we have mentioned, the consideration and workforce planning is just the beginning. It is then how you manage the change across the schools that is essential to the success of the Trust. Workforce planning is a lengthy consultation at best but for a trust with multiple schools and structures to consider it is a project in itself. Merging multiple structures and aligning them with the Trust’s vision is a difficult task

With this in mind we have developed a new training programme that is all about managing people and developing people strategy for your Multi-Academy Trust. The programme covers workforce planning, staffing, recruitment, remuneration, staff development, change management, performance management and managing staff welfare. If you are interested in booking a place for September please get in touch with Lucy Hutton on 01924 827869.

If you need hands on help with workforce planning, departmental restructures or Trust restructures and staff development, please get in touch on 01924 827869. One of our team will be happy to chat through how we can help.

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