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The Value of Exit Interviews to Schools and Academies? Priceless!

Does your school complete exit interviews when someone leaves the organisation? If not, you could be missing out on valuable information that can feed into the continual improvement of your school or academy. After all, who better to ask about what works well and what doesn’t than those that have been part of the operation? Staff who are leaving have nothing to lose and may tell you truths that others might shy away from sharing.

So, what can you find out and how is it useful?
Find out why they joined you in the first place. Collecting information as to why people joined you in the first place is invaluable for future recruitment. Do people join because your school has a good reputation or a good CPD offer? Or was it simply the job itself that attracted the person to your school?   

What did they enjoy?

First-hand knowledge as to what staff have liked about your organisation can also be useful in developing a strategy for recruiting the best talent.  Think about adding the good things they say about you on your website.  Prospective candidates are likely to search your website before applying, so sharing the positive things staff have said will increase the chance of them applying whilst giving them an idea of what it is like to work in your school.

How long did they stay and why are they leaving?
Data telling us why people leave and how long they stay is equally important.  Do people stay until they retire, do they leave to seek promotion, or have they simply left because they didn’t like something?  If you know this information you can do something with it, this is particularly useful if people are leaving because they didn’t like something as it gives you the opportunity to put it right. If people left because they were seeking promotion, you can examine whether it is because these opportunities were not accessible in your school or because they felt unable to get the training they would need to progress, or that they’ve received a high standard of training, so they now have the skill set to move on?  Knowing which it is helpful.  If there aren’t the opportunities in your organisation and you want people to stay, you may well need to look at succession planning or seeing if there are additional responsibilities or projects they would like to manage. If they feel there training is lacking you can look at ways to remedy this and if you have trained people well so they can advance their career, you can feel a sense of pride. It demonstrates you train your staff well and is also healthy for the organisation to have change.

Beyond this there is plenty more information you can find out…what is training like? Do you provide enough or is there more you can do?  What is staff morale like? Do you need to introduce a strategy to increase it?  What improvements could be made to make the work place better?  Did any school policy or procedures make the job more difficult? What was supervision like?  How well is the school run?  If, there is an initiative the school is trialling, ask for feedback on this. All this information is valuable because it helps to bring about continual improvement.

How to carry out an Exit Interview?

  • Where possible have someone independent carry it out, you are far more likely to get honest answers!
  • Use a template.  At Schools’ Choice we offer templates for many vital HR discussions including exit interviews, the questions encourage the person to provide a narrative and doesn’t restrict them to putting a tick in a box, we will send you the exit interview template free of charge and obligation to buy into the service, please email us here so we can send it to you. 
  • Conduct the exit interview face to face. On average it takes about 30 minutes to complete, it's worth spending this time with the person to get the information and it also shows the that the organisation is interested in what they have to say. Don’t forget to tell them the purpose of the exit interview and how you will use the information they provide.

What to do with the information once collected?

Each year the information should be collated, and a report written to be shared with Senior Leaders and Governors. The data should be anonymised, there should not be the possibility for individuals to be identified.  It is worth noting any trends and areas for improvement.  If several people are saying the same improvement needs to be made then, then it is worth investing time in finding out what can be done. Maybe a working party can be put together to look at an issue and to see if change can be brought about? 

There is also opportunity to celebrate what the school does well and to thank any staff members that are mentioned positively. Similarly, there may be something less positive that needs following up with a member of staff. Likewise, Governors will find the information helpful. It will give them a picture as to what is going on in the organisation and some information may be valuable in feeding into the School Development plan. It also gives Governors the opportunity to ask questions. If a report is produced every year, then there becomes an opportunity for benchmarking. Senior Leaders and Governors can compare year on year data and can monitor if improvements are being made. 

So much can be gained from carrying out exit interviews, it is not just a tick box exercise! Done well it can bring about change and contribute to the strategic direction of the school - priceless!

If you purchase HR Consultancy service, please speak to your HR Consultant for any further advice and guidance to support. If you would like to have a free, no-obligation conversation about how our HR Consultancy team could help your school or academy, please get in touch

Sam Painter, HR Consultant, Schools’ Choice.




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