Selecting, Inspiring and Developing

Charlotte Nicol
Published on 29th January 2013
4 min read

Future Leaders trains educational leaders who are placed within UK schools as either head teachers or senior teaching staff. Founded in 2006 by the children’s charities Absolute Return for Kids (ARK), the National College and the Specialist Schools & Academies Trust (SSAT) they have grown from 20 teachers to over 280 working in 200 challenging schools across the UK.

With offices in London, Birmingham, Manchester and one soon to open in Leeds, Future Leaders offers in-depth competency assessments and coaching to potential candidates wishing to head a challenging school. Future Leaders has designed a course to develop senior leaders with the aim of becoming headteachers within 4 years via a mix of training, coaching, mentoring and placements. Not only do they source the best candidates with the ability to lead and make a difference, but they place them within the schools that need most help.

Complicated Paper trails

Future Leaders was created to find outstanding leaders, helping them realise their potential. Shirley Gaynor, COO of Future leaders has seen the company grow from 4 staff in 2006 to almost 50 across the UK. Key to this success is the ability to attract the very best candidates using an ‘attract, recruit and inspire’ policy.

Data drives the recruitment process and this was creating a bottleneck. Previously each application process was managed on multiple complicated and time consuming spread sheets. The out-dated process made it difficult for Future Leaders employees to be proactive across the business, such as competency assessments, training and candidate engagement. The original approach used was complicated and time consuming and not in line with the vision of high quality recruitment which would change the face of education within the schools that most needed it.

The existing process made it difficult to quickly review how far along a candidate was within the recruitment pipeline. Assessment centres had to fill in applications using pen and paper before inputting to the computer, doubling the workload of staff whose time would be better served elsewhere.  Gaynor wanted availability of data from anywhere at any time and to ensure the recruitment process was as smooth as possible.  She wanted to increase the number of applicants Future Leaders was able to process and the visibility of candidates’ progression, from application to training and ultimately completion. The solution was to simplify the application and assessment process for both candidate and assessor.

Freedom in the Cloud

Gaynor needed a cloud based solution that would manage both and integrated into which was already in use.  The recruitment process, which begins in October and ends in March, attracts over 1500 applicants, each of which must meet various criteria and pass a series of competency tests to gain access.

The process itself has to deal with mass recruitment and therefore has significant administration including applicants being reminded of key dates in the process,  and outcomes at each stage of the process. To ensure these important communications were being sent to the candidates, at the right time and the appropriate messaging Gaynor sought an automated system with a personal feel. This saves time and offers each candidate the opportunities they deserved to complete their applications, whilst also ensuring staff time were spending less time administering but instead adding value to the process through quality assessment and assurance of all applications. Gaynor believed that only a cloud solution could offer the geographical scalability allowing the company to expand across the UK.  The decision allowed Future Leaders to concentrate on the core of the business without being weighed down with administration.

Gaynor said, “Cloud computing offered the freedom we desired. A new office could be set up in a short space of time at a palatable cost, helping Future Leaders to target the most deprived educational areas and concentrate on our key mission statement”

Central to the business are the assessors, who are charged with the task of completing key competency assessments for potential candidates. It is their job to assess a candidate’s ability to perform and source those who show exceptional leadership potential.  Each assessor must themselves complete a rigorous screening program using an online training system, accessible anywhere at any time.  As Future Leaders assessors are a flexible workforce, an easy-to-use online cloud based solution means they are able to score or assess day or night and from a location that is convenient for them.

Automated Recruitment

On concluding a cloud based solution was the right fit, Gaynor set out to find a provider that offered the level of competency assessments Future Leaders needed. This included Human Capital Management (HCM) capabilities for managing both internal staff and those on the Future Leaders training programme.  Sage People was the only HR software provider to fulfil this criteria.

Using Sage People Recruit, Future Leaders was able to handle a much larger number of applicants and automate the eligibility criteria such as holding qualified teacher status (QTS) and the right to work in the UK.

Gaynor explained: “Sage People was able to automate the admin chores, with its automated email system reminding candidates which sections still needed completing, personalising the reminders without having to manually contact each of our 1500 applicants. It was the ‘toolbox’ we needed to free staff and simplify the process. Everyone likes a personalised service”

Gaynor predicts that at peak times, Sage People Recruit saves Future Leaders the equivalent of two members of staff who can now focus their time elsewhere.

Managing Human Capital

Future Leaders initially employed the Sage People system to manage recruitment but it quickly became apparent that it could also be used to benchmark and analyse data from the training processes, using Sage People 360 and HCM.  Before Sage People, Future Leaders was using the free of charge Survey Monkey tool to provide feedback to candidates. On average, a candidate would have to fill in around 900 multiple choice questions a year, being manually prompted if any section was missed. Sage People now manages this in a completely automated manner.

Gaynor said, “360 Reporting provides a full view of performance; where you are above average, where you may be struggling and blind spots which are areas you may think you are strong in but could do with more work.  We can create a full report from the 360 at the click of a button to be reviewed and discussed at the next coaching session to focus training priorities.”

Tomorrow’s Leaders Today

Future Leaders believes that education depends upon systematic change. Looking forward, Future Leaders wants to discover new ways of reaching out to candidates who possess exemplary leadership qualities, selecting and inspiring individuals who will positively impact the youth of today.

Working closely with the National College, which works to develop leaders in early year’s settings, children’s services and schools they can discover, nurture and develop the natural leadership abilities that are key to future success not only for Future Leaders but within the schools themselves.

Gaynor concludes “Having the right support is vital to the head teachers of tomorrow. School leadership is challenging but ultimately rewarding, embracing technology we can continue to change the fortunes of underprivileged schools offering them the staff who can drive positive change within education”.

With more offices already in the pipeline and the technology behind them to set up anywhere at any time, Future Leaders will continue to grow providing the staff who will ultimately inspire tomorrow’s leaders today.

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