Head Search and Recruitment

OPTIMAL SCHOOL GOVERNANCE supports school boards by conducting effective searches to recruit heads, interim heads and other senior positions.

We understand and appreciate the importance of professionalism, discretion, confidentiality and sensitivity in this process, which is one of the most important tasks that any school board ever undertakes.  Therefore, every search is individually crafted to meet the specific needs of the school.  We do not retain a bank of resumés and we are not a placement agency.  We use our extensive network to scour the world if necessary to find the optimal match of head with the school.

The search begins by developing an illustrated ‘Position Description’ (or ‘Opportunity Statement’) that articulates the school’s mission and vision, its characteristics, its attributes and its challenges.  This document is developed by OPTIMAL SCHOOL GOVERNANCE in close collaboration with the school board and, with the board’s permission, selected senior personnel.

OPTIMAL SCHOOL GOVERNANCE then publicises the position and undertakes its own search for potential applicants, maintaining close communication with the board at every stage of the process.  Following this process, we assist the search committee and the board while undertaking candidate screening and preliminary interviews, after which we support the board through the process of reference checking, final interviews, community surveys (if appropriate) and, ultimately, the details of drafting and offering a contract.

Our search processes include the following elements:

  • We cast a wide net to find the optimal match between person and school, knowing that the appointee will work closely with the board as its key driver to implement the school’s distinctive mission;
  • We can offer advice on the formation of a search committee, and provide ongoing support to that committee;
  • We will develop an enticing, professional, position prospectus that reflects the character of the school, drawing upon input from trustees, senior staff and focus groups of key stakeholders;
  • We will control and account for all aspects of the costs for the search, including advertising, to ensure top value for funds spent;
  • We will support the board and the search committee in communicating the progress of the search to the wider community at predetermined stages of the process;
  • We will support the board in understanding the importance of healthy, effective board governance processes throughout the search process;
  • We will help to ensure that the new appointee (and family) makes a safe, comfortable and effective transition;
  • We will help the board to understand the risks as well as the opportunities of including one or more internal applicants in the search process;
  • We will ensure that the important due diligence of checking references is conducted professionally, while also respecting the confidentiality of applicants – especially that of current heads;
  • We will provide advice, if requested, on appropriate remuneration packages to ensure fairness, competitiveness and fiscal responsibility;
  • In consultation with the school’s legal advisors, we will assist with drafting the contract to ensure the protection of both the school and the appointee; and
  • We offer transition planning and support, including a complimentary return visit to the school during the new Head’s first year if requested.

OPTIMAL SCHOOL GOVERNANCE understands that the final decision to appoint a new head always remains the board’s responsibility.  We see our task as being to provide whatever help and support the board requests in order to ensure an optimal decision is made that will enhance the school’s health and future.

If you are considering hiring a search firm, we would like to hear from you as we are specialists in services that support school boards – it is our sole focus.  A confidential, preliminary conversation might allow us to answer some of your questions and learn more about your school’s particular situation and needs.  Please initiate a conversation by sending us an e-mail using the link below.

Click HERE to read our article Recruiting a new Head of School.