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The beginning of the academic year doesn’t just see an influx of new pupils but of new teachers and staff members also. Whilst the priority is to ensure that pupils settle into school life as quickly as possible, it is important to make sure staff do too. Octavo’s HR Manager, Cathy Brearley, discusses why having a good induction process in place can make the transition that much easier for everyone.
Starting a new role
At the start of the academic year many schools will have welcomed new members of staff to their workforce.
Starting a new job brings with it a range of emotions. Of course, people will react in different ways but feelings are likely to include excitement for the new role, a sense of anticipation about the new working environment, the hope they will get on well with new colleagues and, for some, may be a few nerves too. Similarly, managers will have their own expectations and concerns. Whilst there may be relief at having the vacancy filled and excitement at welcoming a new member of staff, employers may also have worries, such as how quickly the new employee will settle in and about the overall success of the appointment.
New staff who arrived in September will have been given lots of information about their new school and the role they are to carry out. By now the sense of newness, along with the anticipation and excitement will have worn off, and the reality may be beginning to sink in.
The school term quickly gets busy, and it is easy to forget that just one month in, new members of staff are still likely to be finding their feet and in need of a little extra support. This doesn’t just apply to NQTs, who will be going through their own formal induction process, but to teachers with many years of experience, as well as support staff.
A well planned and thought through induction process creates a framework for welcoming new staff to the school, making sure they are able to work effectively and successfully. Induction takes time, but it is an investment worth making. In the long term, it is in the school’s best interest for all staff to be clear about expectations, and to ensure they have the support and training they need.
A new employee who understands their role, is clear about how the school works and feels part of the team will become effective in their work more quickly and become committed to the school. Over the first few months, it is worth creating time to meet with the new employee on a regular basis to check that they are settling in well and have a chance to raise any questions.
A well-managed induction will create a favourable impression of the school and help retain staff, enable good employees to be effective more quickly, ensure that those who need more support to settle in receive it swiftly, and where needs be, provide a mechanism and process for terminating the employment of an unsatisfactory new employee.
For support staff, running alongside induction, is the probation period. All contracts of employment are (or should be, if they are well drafted) subject to the satisfactory completion of probation, which typically last for six months as a minimum. The purpose of this is dual: it effectively formalises the induction process described above, but it also provides a mechanism whereby if there are issues about the performance of a new member of staff they can be addressed and, if there is no improvement, the individual can be dismissed. Probation therefore has an important role to play in the management of staff and ensuring the maintenance of high quality standards in the school.
Schools need to make sure they have induction and probation policies in place. Our HR team provide one in the HR Resources section of the Octavo website. Having a policy in place provides a framework for the process, and schools need to make sure it is applied and followed.
The majority of the time problems don’t arise but this shouldn’t be used as an excuse not to follow induction processes. You never know when the difficult situation will develop and, from a more positive perspective, having a process in place will create certainty for new employees and should help them settle in more quickly.
We recognise that it is never easy when problems do arise, and making sure that they are addressed appropriately within the context of education and employment law is worrying. Talking to one of Octavo’s experienced education HR professionals will ease some of the concerns. If you would like some bespoke training about induction and probation, why not contact our HR team who would be happy to arrange a session for you:
Telephone: 020 8241 5483