Would you like some good news? On your return from Birmingham, you will no doubt be asking Ministers how their departments can save money. Here is one suggestion. I am not unbiased in making this suggestion, as it could benefit TeachVac, the job board that I chair. However, TeachVac was in existence before the DfE started its own version and has consistently shown how to achieve a low-cost approach to vacancy listing as our accounts at Companies House will confirm. Reviewing the DfE site could also save the government money.
We suggested originally that the DfE need only provide a page pointing those seeking teaching posts to available sites in the private sector, and another for schools showing the relative costs of using different sites. However, in response to the Public Accounts Committee, the DfE decided on a more costly intervention and created its own job board.
TeachVac is currently offering secondary schools a deal of 12 months of unlimited matches for just £250 and a mere £50 for primary schools. How much per vacancy does the DfE cost to provide?
Reproduced below is a post from 2020 that further makes the case for saving money on the DfE’s job board. Our monitoring since then suggests that the DfE site has gained little traction in the market and may be losing ground in terms of teaching vacancies uploaded.
DfE and Teacher Vacancies: Part Two
Posted on April 3, 2021
The DfE is spending more money supporting their latest venture into the teacher recruitment market. SchoolsWeek has uncovered the latest moves by the government to challenge existing players in this market https://schoolsweek.co.uk/dfe-leans-on-mats-to-boost-teacher-job-vacancies-website-take-up/ in an exclusive report.
The current DfE foray into the recruitment market follows the failure of the Fast Track Scheme of two decades ago and the Schools Recruitment Service that fizzled out a decade ago. The present attempt also came on the heels of the fiasco around a scheme to offer jobs in challenging schools in the north of England that never progressed beyond the trial phase.
The present DfE site rolled out nationally two years ago this month. How successful it has been was the subject of a SchoolsWeek article earlier this year. https://schoolsweek.co.uk/dfes-teacher-job-website-carries-only-half-of-available-positions/ This blog reviewed the market for vacancy sites for teachers last December, in a post entitled Teacher Vacancy Platforms: Pros and Cons that was posted on December 7, 2020.
In that December post, I looked at the three key sites for teacher vacancies in England. TeachVac; the DfE Vacancy site and the TES. As I pointed out, this was not an unbiased look, because I am Chair of the company that owns TeachVac. Indeed, I said, it might be regarded as an advertisement, and warned readers to treat it in that way.
There is an issue with how much schools spend on recruitment of teachers. After all, that was why TeachVac was established eight years ago. The DfE put the figure in their evidence to the STRB this year at around £75 million; a not insubstantial figure.
Will TeachVac be squeezed out in a war between the DfE backed by unlimited government funding and the TES with a big American backer? At the rate TeachVac is currently adding new users, I don’t think so. After all, the DfE site doesn’t cover independent schools, and in the present market I believe that most teachers want a site that allows access to all teaching jobs and not just some. That benefits both TeachVac and the TES as well as other players in the market, such as The Guardian and SchoolsWeek, as well as recruitment agencies.
How much the DfE will need to spend on ensuring they cover the whole of the state-funded job market in terms of acquiring vacancies by the ‘school entering vacancies’ method is another interesting question? As is, how much will it also cost to drive teachers to using the DfE site and not TeachVac or the TES?
A view of TeachVac’s account reveals that TeachVac provides access to more jobs for teachers at less than the DfE is going to spend on promoting their site over the next few months. Such spending only makes good commercial sense if you want to remove a player from the market.
So, here’s a solution. Hire TeachVac to promote the DfE site and use the data TeachVac already generates to monitor the working of the labour market. After all, that was also one of the suggestions from the Public Accounts Committee Report that spurred the DfE into action and the creation of their present attempt at running a vacancy site.