Internal recruitment in schools


You might be disappointed because you have been unsuccessful or overlooked during internal recruitment at your school. You might question why a colleague has received a promotion and do not think your school is following a fair or transparent recruitment process.

In this article, we look at what obligations schools have for internal recruitment, what you can do to raise a concern and link to examples of internal recruitment procedures from schools.

Does my school have to follow certain rules for internal recruitment?

Generally, there is no legal or statutory obligations on employers (including schools) to advertise vacancies internally, however, it is deemed as good practice to do so. There are also no set procedures to follow, so internal recruitment practices will differ from school to school, from submitting expressions of interest, formal interviews to in-tray exercises.

Your school might have a recruitment and selection policy which could include a section on how internal recruitment operates. You will want to discuss with your line manager on what the recruitment process is so you are clear on the different steps involved. If you are unsure of any steps it will be better to ask questions at the beginning of the process rather than raising concerns after the appointment has been made.

There are some situations where it is necessary to advertise internally, for example, during a redundancy exercise, in order to ensure a fair and reasonable redundancy procedure.

To find out more information on redundancy procedures in schools please read our article on the topic.

What should I do if I have been discriminated against?

If you believe you have been discriminated against during the application process, or you school has not followed its own policy, you could raise a grievance with your school. We recommend contacting us first, to ascertain whether you have a case.

We have published an article on how to raise a grievance at your school.

If your school treats you less favourably because you have one or more of these characteristics it would be unlawful. Protected characteristics are:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender reassignment
  • Marriage and civil partnership
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

We have published another article looks at protected characteristics included in the Equality Act.

Examples of internal recruitment in schools


Clapton Girls’ Academy in Hackney has a recruitment and selection policy which includes information on how internal recruitment is managed.

It explains that internal vacancies will be advertised via staff briefing and existing staff will be invited to initially express an interest in the position by a designated date. Once all expressions of interest have been received, staff will usually be asked to complete a supporting statement for the position. Staff will then be invited to an interview which will be carried out in the same way as an interview for an external candidate.

External references for internal candidates will only be sought if they are new to the academy and the internal internal role is significantly different from the role they are currently performing (and the school have already received references for).

Special school

Newark Orchard School is a special school in Nottinghamshire. It has a recruitment and selection policy. 

It explains that all candidates must be assessed equally against the criteria shown in the agreed person specification. There must be no exception or variation to this as this could render the whole process unfair. Knowledge of a candidate which is not relevant to the post should not be taken into account. This is particularly important where there are internal candidates.

Independent school

Westward School, an independent school in Surrey, has a recruitment policy.

It explains the school will advertise all vacant posts to encourage as wide a field of candidates as possible. Normally this will entail an external advertisement. However, where there is a reasonable expectation that there are sufficient qualified internal candidates or where staff are at risk or redundancy, an internal advertisement may be considered appropriate.

Further questions

If you have additional questions about how recruitment has been handled at your school and feel you have been discriminated against, you can contact us for further advice and support.

Was this article helpful?

The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.