The right way to outsource school HR


Your role as headteacher is busy enough without adding to the workload.

In fact, thinning things out a touch to provide just a little thinking and breathing space can be hugely valuable. But where to find that space?One option is to outsource HR, but how do you realise those benefits whilst retaining control?

The benefits of outsourcing school HR

HR is as a neat and (relatively) self-contained role that lends itself rather nicely to being outsourced. There are plenty of benefits to outsourcing HR:

  • Costs are invariably less than running your own HR department
  • There’s a reduced chance of things being missed, because when you have someone focused purely on HR rather than juggling multiple roles - of which HR is just one - there’s less chance of things falling between the cracks
  • You can focus on core school issues while someone else gets on with the day to day management of HR
  • Crucially, outsourcing HR can cut the risk to which you and your school are exposed. With every head juggling multiple pieces of guidance and legislation, it helps to be able to pass one part of it – employment law - to an expert provider who’ll keep on top of changes for you (and who’ll have professional indemnity insurance to mitigate the financial effects of any loss). Retain the HR in-house and the compliance buck stops with you

It all creates a compelling argument for making HR the element you outsource – and we help many headteachers outsource their HR. Yet there’s one other factor that’s vital in determining who to outsource to…

A question of control

You know the pressures of being a head. You know, as this Guardian article so tellingly described, the pressure to be “Teflon coated” and on top of everything. You know the stress and anxiety of leadership, as this Times piece recently illustrated.

It is naturally tempting to assume that the stress and workload will diminish when you relinquish control of some of the job. But that’s only the case if you do it in the right way.

There are plenty of companies to which you could outsource your HR, but very few of them specialise in schools – and, as we all know, no business runs quite like a school. Without the right HR practitioner, someone who understands the specific challenges of the job, there’s a danger you can become disconnected from some of the most important aspects of school management. And unless they’re willing to work in partnership with you, there’s a risk that their ethos will differ from the one you’ve established.

Take absence management, for example. A generalist outsourced provider may apply the rules you set, but it’s unlikely to do so in a way that works seamlessly with the culture you’ve carefully cultivated in school. That can lead to dissent and frustration – a feeling that, irrespective of the culture, the HR provider will act like a faceless automaton. And because the provider isn’t a direct employee, you’ll have limited control over fixing things unless you’ve established those controls from the outset.

That’s not something that happens when you work with a specialist schools HR provider. Culture remains consistent. You stay in control and fully aware of the HR issues your school faces. And that can result in more than a seamless HR function.  Why?

Profound effects with The Driven Employee

Recently we spoke to Nick, a headteacher of several years’ standing, and in his current post for around 18 months. He took part in The Practical Manager course and for six months developed his in-school management skills. He told us how the course has transformed the way he tackles HR.

“I’d say the course has made me more thoughtful, more conscious of what my school needs and what I need to do as a leader to deliver that. It’s given me greater confidence to tackle business challenges and some of the HR challenges we have seen here.”

Being able to reconnect with more of the day-to-day HR issues faced by his school has delivered some unexpected benefits: “The sense of wellbeing the course gives you is an added bonus I really didn’t anticipate at the start of the programme,” Nick told us. “The programme has boosted my confidence, which, in turn, has improved my wellbeing and I believe I and the school are seeing the knock-on effects of that. I’m definitely less anxious in handling difficult situations now, because I know I have the strategies to deal with them.”

The knock-on effect of that has been profound, he says, resulting in a more confident leader and a shift in culture for the whole school.

Striking the right balance with school HR

As Nick’s experience demonstrates, there’s a value in feeling in control that stretches far beyond the HR itself. So, if you’re going to outsource your HR, it’s important that you choose a partner who’ll work closely with you and who you can feel secure with – as though they’ve ‘got your back’ - and enable you to stay in control.

The Driven Employee’s Effective Leadership and Management package includes:

  • One place on The Practical Manager progamme - a 12-month modular programme combining six people management topics and six CPD modules to enhance your ability to ‘manage’
  • A one day Leadership workshop for your management team (or two half days'  training/ coaching as required)
  • Managing Absence Toolkit – staff absence (especially short term) can be costly and disruptive to schools. The toolkit helps you identify key triggers so you can manage and reduce absence levels and ensure compliance with your policy
  • Includes free HR consultancy (reasonable use applies)

Payable in one annual instalment of £3999 + VAT

To find out more about the Effective Leadership and Management package, click here and to talk to us, contact Barbara Craig at The Driven Employee on 07824 466 430 or