Nursery recruitment: the planning process for recruiting a member of nursery staff

Recruiting and retaining skilled, knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff is undoubtedly the most important factor influencing the quality of early years provision. But the recruitment crisis means that a successful, smooth and safe recruitment process is more important than ever.

See our top tips to help recruit the right person. We also provide a link to free nursery recruitment resources for NDNA members.

Why your nursery staff are so important

Your team members are your most valuable asset; they must be carefully chosen, treated with respect and valued for their individual abilities, skills, knowledge and interests.

Retaining the team you have carefully nurtured is key for many reasons including:

  • Providing continuity of care and education for the children and their families
  • Building on your current success to continue to improve
  • Supporting partnerships with parents, families and other agencies
  • Enabling strong links in your staff team to continue
  • Recruitment is a costly exercise, not just financially but also with time and resources.

The nursery recruitment process

Recruitment can be a time-consuming, onerous process, particularly if you are recruiting a number of roles.

For example, you may have to write an advertisement for a role. There are also many documents that you need at the ready, from Job Descriptions, to interview questions, to health and safety questionnaires. Successful candidates need a job offer letter, contract of employment, DBS checks and references. You also want the successful candidate to stay with you long term, so the induction for the new staff member needs to be excellent.

There is a lot to consider!

Top tips for your nursery recruitment planning process

Here are some top tips from NDNA on the planning process for recruiting a member of staff to your setting:

1. Assessing your needs and wants

The first stage of the planning process is to assess what you need and want from a new employee. There are a few questions which will help to start this process, including:

  • What area/room do I need this new member of the team to work in?
  • Is this a senior position?
  • What staff: child ratios must I meet?

To help with planning your recruitment, check your nation’s specific legal requirements for staff: child ratios and qualification requirements.

2. Consultations with staff

Find out what the staff working with and line managing this new member of the team think about this role. This will help you to focus on what you want to look for in your applicants e.g. they may feel that strength in one particular area will fit into the existing team well.

Talk to the member of staff that is leaving, where appropriate, as this will help you to find out the finer details of their role first hand. Using an exit interview is a good way of focusing these discussions.

3. Salary

Consideration needs to be given to the salary for the post. Factors to consider include current grades of pay offered within the nursery, how much you can afford to pay, rates offered by other nurseries and compliance with the national minimum wage, equal pay and discrimination legislation.

4. Contractual hours required

You should now consider whether the job needs to be performed on a full-time basis or whether it could be carried out on a job share or part-time basis. Denying an applicant a job on the basis they cannot carry out the role on a full-time basis could amount to discrimination, unless the reason for it being full-time can be shown to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. In order to justify the hours of work, you would have to demonstrate that it is necessary for the role, rather than just being preferable.

5. Employment laws

There are many employment laws you need to adhere to when employing staff, including the Equality Act 2010 which brings together previous acts relating to discrimination. if you recruit temporary staff through employment agencies, you need to be aware of the Agency Workers Regulations 2010.

6. Nursery Job descriptions and person specifications

Once you have decided on the finer details and referred to all relevant employment laws, you will need to work through the job description and person specification. The person specification should outline the knowledge, skills, training and experience either required or desirable for the successful applicant to have, in order to carry out the role.

7. Free resources from NDNA to save you time in the recruitment process

NDNA provides its members with a range of pre-written resources to save them time and allow them to focus on what they do best, caring for and educating children in early years. In addition to providing pre-written policies and procedures, NDNA is delighted to add 18 pre-written job descriptions for key roles within the nursery. We have also included interview questions for some of the key roles.

The Nursery Recruitment Pack provides you with pre-written job descriptions for 18 job roles, from Nursery Assistant, to Baby Room Leader, to SENCO/ALNCO. To help you with interviews, we also provide you with example interview questions for specific positions, so you can rest assured that you are covering all the key topics.

The planning process is only step one of your nursery recruitment.

We hope you find these top tips useful. The above advice comes from NDNA’s publication, Recruitment and Selection. The book provides full advice on the recruitment process, sourcing and attracting candidates, the interview process, identity checks and selection. It also provides a further range of templates and guides to help with the process after successfully recruiting a candidate. These include a guide on employment contracts, probation periods and templates for a health questionnaire, offer letters and more. NDNA members can purchase this publication at a discount. See the website for more information.

We also offer members a free guide to Safer Recruitment, which you can download from the website. See the Government’s Early Years Workforce Strategy for more support.

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