Case Analysis of Southwood School
Human resource theories are essential in exploring how management structures influence employee behavior. Having an in-depth understanding of these theories can help maximize overall employee productivity as well as minimize employee turnover. There are four primary domains identified in HRM theories as being key in maximizing the organizational performance which includes recruitment, selection, training, and development. The primary objective of this paper is to conduct a qualitative study examining Southwood School’s HR challenges and opportunities in light of these domains. The first section provides a comprehensive overview of Southwood School while the second one highlights the methodology examining the strategy for collecting and analyzing primary data. The final sections analysis the challenges and opportunities Southwood School faces as well as the main implications affecting most organizations in the U.K.
Organization of case analysis
Southwood School is an educational institution located in North-West London with a population of more than 800 students. The institution was selected for the case analysis because it is based within the U.K public sector and is faced with unique challenges and opportunities in light of its recruitment, selection, training and development practices. As such, a qualitative study on the school will provide information about the HR issues affecting most organizations in the U.K as well as help suggests a recommendation for future studies. The school is a government-funded NGO with a staff size of 120 employees (80 teaching staff and 40 non-teaching staff) (Southwood Primary n.p). Southwood School’s HRM is primarily concerned with the management of both the teaching and non-teaching staff by overseeing employee recruitment, training, development, performance appraisal, as well as designing the employee-benefits.
The school’s vision aims and values reflect its commitment towards maintaining an effective HRM system. For example, the vision statement focuses on working together: with critical partners (staff and the local community) to inspire future generations as well as achieve educational excellence. Moreover, the statement highlights the need of developing individual talents and characters to ensure everyone “develops a thirst for knowledge and a love of learning, for life, and is proud to be part of” the school’s community (Southwood Primary n.p). As such, the school leverages a progressive approach in recruiting, selecting, training and developing human capital. Moreover, the HRM is committed towards inclusion, believing that every staff has the right to succeed by mitigating the inherent barriers to learning thereby ensuring everyone succeeds in realizing their potential irrespective of their starting points or backgrounds (Southwood Primary n.p).
The HR department also concerns itself with institutional changes to the balance of organizational practices with requirements likely to arise from governmental regulations as well as collective bargaining from the local community. The school has recently experienced increased employee turnover that demands a higher level of recruitment activity. The current recruitment and selection process involves several steps which range from making hiring decision to posting the job vacancies and warranting background investigations. The primary HR management strategy for recruitment activities and employee selection involves assessing the effectiveness of the hiring managers and recruiters and tracking the cost per hire. The approach allows Southwood School’s HR management to evaluate the overall turnover attributed to poor hiring decisions.
While the current HRM strategy plays a central role in reinforcing the recruitment, selection, training, and development practices, the school is still faced by a myriad of challenges which are exuberated by Brexit. For example, organizations in the U.K are facing the biggest human resources shortage in three decades due to Brexit. Moreover, over 81 percent of manufacturers and 70 percent of service sector firms have reported difficulties in finding skilled staff. As such, the study on Southwood School’s HRM strategy is significant because it helps develop an in-depth understanding of the implications of the acute teacher shortage in the U.K, which has reached unprecedented levels.
As is the case with the other institutions in the U.K, Southwood School is not immune to the unique challenges present in the industry which range from severe teacher shortages to bigger class sizes and more subjects being taught by underqualified staff (Coughlan n.p). However, the problem of teacher recruitment remains one of the primary issues undermining primary schools in the U.K. According to Coughlan, the recruitment and retention efforts by most primary schools are hampered by the increased workload in schools coupled with the need to improve accountability in HRM (n.p). Although teacher deficiency is an alarm bell, the response to the crisis by the schools’ HR department has been poor. Therefore, conducting a qualitative study to examine Southwood School’s HRM helps identify the unique challenges and opportunities in its recruitment, selection, training, and development approaches.
Strategy and Method for Collecting and Analysing Data
HR theories are often derived from a combination of several study fields with each contributing towards developing a better understanding of how culture influences behavior. Most of the studies leverage a qualitative methodology in collecting and analyzing because unlike the quantitate approach it provides an in-depth and detailed look into the data gathered rather than just analyzing ranks and counts (Knowles and Ardra 32). As such, the qualitative methodology was selected to gather and analyze data from Southwood School. Moreover, this methodology is essential in recording the feelings, attitudes, and behaviors of the research participants because it simulates people’s individual experiences. The researcher believes that qualitative analysis plays a central role in generating detailed insights about why the study participants choose careers in teaching, what motivated them, as well as the qualities students are likely to look for in a teacher.
The primary methodologies employed in collecting data are observations and semi-structured interviews. The researcher chooses observations because they allowed to understand how the participants conducted themselves rather than what they said they did. However, the approach was limited by the fact that it is time-consuming and invasive. The interviews included five open-ended questions to help both the researcher and participants give responses in more details. The semi-structured interviews are a form of qualitative data collection methods and were selected because they provide the study participants with some guidance on what they can talk about, which the researcher found to help explore the challenges and opportunities present in Southwood School’s HRM (Knowles and Ardra 23). The interviews were limited by the fact that they were time-consuming and were susceptible to biases of the interviewer.
The qualitative research methodology involved three steps. Firstly, the researcher identified the opportunities available for data collection such as the availability of a study sample including teachers who have already taught at Southwood School. Secondly, the researcher was able to set goals and objectives as well as prioritize the issues warranting for data collection. The primary objective set in the data collection involves leveraging qualitative data gathered through interviews and observations to examine the school’s HR challenges and opportunities. Finally, the researcher planned for the research approach and methods to be used which include interviews, observations, as well as documents and records from different departments.
There are several benefits of sampling which include reducing the volume of data as well as avoiding monotony since the researcher does not have to repeat the query to all the individual data. The simple random sampling was selected whereby a group of 10 participants (all teaching staff) was included in the study from a larger population of 120 staff. Each individual was chosen entirely by chance and had an equal chance of being included in the study sample. The simple random sample refers to the subset of a statistical population whereby every individual has an equal chance of being selected. The sampling approach was selected for the study due to the ease of use as well as the accuracy of representation. Maas and Joop note that simple random sampling is the easiest method for extracting study samples from a larger population while avoiding bias (87). Both the teaching and non-teaching staff were selected for the study because they provide the richest data and information necessary to achieve the research objectives. The number of participants selected for the study was only ten because the scope of the interviews did not require a large sample. Moreover, the data gathered from 10 employees can be used to generalize the findings on the entire population of employees in the school. It was essential for the researcher to observe ethics in research when completing the study. As such, the researcher ensured each participant understood the purpose of the study and assured them that their confidentiality would be protected. Since the interview questions are not sensitive, the researcher did not find the need to take them through the questions before asking them. Finally, the researcher obtained approval from the institutional review board (IRB) as well as permission from Southwood School before preparing the samples and conducting the interview.
The interviews were conducted inside a classroom after work and took only 30 minutes per interview. However, observations were limited by the fact that they are time-consuming. For example, observations took longer, averaging one hour per participant and were made during classroom hours. The researcher recorded the interview data by taking copious notes. Research ethics was observed by first seeking permission from each interviewee before conducting both the interview and observations. Table 1 shows the interview questions used in gathering data.
|1||Why did you become a teacher?|
|2||Why do you want to work at this school?|
|3||What qualities do students look for in a teacher?|
|4||How do you approach to discipline, and what significance does it have in learning?|
|5||What do you think of technology in your classroom, and what steps have you taken to utilize the technology?|
Table 1. Shows the interview questions used in gathering data Source: (self)
The questions were open-ended which ensured the participants gave full and meaningful answers. As such, the researcher sought to discourage short and single-worded answers by framing the questions in the open rather than closed manner. The interviews started with small talk to get the participants comfortable with talking about their experiences. The approach helped the researcher identify follow-up questions, especially when the participants gave responses that generated exciting insights. Since the interview questions were semi-structured, the researcher asked precisely the same questions to all participants. Finally, the data collected will be appraised using thematic analysis; the transcribed data was assigned preliminary codes (Table 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6).
|1||I get satisfied when I inspire the next generation.||Job satisfaction|
|2||Just like doctors teaching is more than just a job due to its rewarding nature which is unmatched by most professions.||Job satisfaction|
|3||Teachers get to do this every day, with the opportunity to instill this enthusiasm in their students.||Passion|
|4||I have a deep desire to advance in my career, and teaching provides me with an opportunity to do so.||Career development|
|5||I have many opportunities to go as high as I want to from being the head of the department to head-teacher.||Career progression|
|6||Generous financial packages, just great||Compensation|
|7||My starting salary was £22,866 annually, yet I was a newly qualified teacher and still in my probation year.||Compensation|
|8||Most nations revere teachers trained in the U.K, so my degree opens up new doors for me to explore the world.||International opportunities|
|9||There are so many opportunities open to me and my fellow graduates, especially after a few years’ experiences.||International opportunities|
|10||My skills and U.K education are in high demand across the world From Asia to North America, Australia to the Middle East||International opportunities|
Table 2. Shows the data collected with the respective codes for the question “Why did you become a teacher?” Source: (self)
|1||I feel my needs to inspiring the next generation are met here.||Job satisfaction|
|2||It is an up-market institution and I feel pride working here.||Job satisfaction|
|3||The other teachers here are supportive.||Work environment|
|4||The school supports my career trajectory.||Supportive environment|
|5||Everyone is friendly||Work environment|
|6||Enough teachers.||Work environment|
|7||The pay is better||Compensation|
|8||Most schools value teachers who have taught here||Esteem workplace|
|9||Was the first place I got posted||First job|
|10||Was the first place I got posted||First job|
Table 3. Shows the data collected with the respective codes for the question “Why do you want to work in this school?” Source: (self)
|1||The teacher’s ability to develop relationships with their students||Student relationships|
|2||A patient, caring, and kind personality||personality|
|3||Knowledge of his or her learners||Knowledge of learners|
|4||Dedication to teaching||Dedication|
|5||Ability to engage students in learning||Engagement|
|6||Clear objectives for lessons||Lesson objectives|
|7||Knowledge of curriculum||Curriculum knowledge|
|8||good classroom management skills||management skills|
|9||Knowledge of his or her learners||Knowledge of learners|
|10||Dedication to teaching||Dedication|
Table 4. Shows the data collected with the respective codes for the question “What qualities do students look for in a teacher?” Source: (self)
|1||By developing a code of conduct.||Code of conduct.|
|2||Promoting the behaviors I want your students to demonstrate.||Positive reinforcement|
|3||Supervising them every time||Active supervision|
|4||Punishing I do not want in the classroom||Punishment|
|5||Providing active supervision||Active supervision|
|7||Recognize their efforts||Positive reinforcement|
|8||Deciding and enforcing the most important rules||Code of conduct.|
|9||By focusing on less than five rules for my classroom||Code of conduct.|
|10||By making sure students know the rules||Code of conduct.|
Table 5. Shows the data collected with the respective codes for the question “How do you approach to discipline, and what significance does it have in learning?” Source: (self)
|1||The technology ensures equal learning opportunities to all my students. The steps I have taken involves use technology as a topic for a writing assignment at least every week||equal learning, writing the assignment|
|2||Makes work for both me and my students easier, I have created a class webpage||Makes work easier, class webpage|
|3||It makes work easier and it is more transparent, I use an online grading system||Makes work easier, online grading system|
|4||Improves communication, I do an email exchange||Improved communication, email exchange|
|5||I can supplement my lessons through a quick Internet search with interesting material||Supplement lessons, Internet search|
|6||Improves the learning outcomes, I have created a class blog and wiki||Improved learning outcomes, class blog, and wiki|
|7||Helps improve my learner’s research skills, I help them publish their work online||research skills, publishing online|
|8||Makes work easier, I have created a class webpage||Makes work easier, class webpage|
|9||Makes work easier I use an online grading system||Makes work easier, online grading system|
|10||Enhanced communication, I do online communication||Improved communication, online communication|
Table 6. Shows the data collected with the respective codes for the question “What do you think of technology in your classroom, and what steps have you taken to utilize the technology?” Source: (self)
The researcher’s judgment acted as a central tool in determining the most important themes. As such, the thematic analysis was limited by the potential pitfalls which often occur when a researcher relies on the research question to code rather than generating the initial codes from the data gathered. The researcher avoided this problem by providing adequate examples of the codes generated from the data. The codes are a description rather than an interpretation and only provide an opportunity for organizing the data into meaningful groups. As such, the researcher searched for themes by interpreting the codes and the data collected. The approach involves ordering the codes into broader themes. Table 7 shows the various patterns of themes identified from the coded data across the different interviews.
|Job satisfaction and Passion in the job||workers’ contentedness with their job|
|Career progression and International opportunities||Career progression leading to international opportunities|
|Job satisfaction||workers’ contentedness with their job|
|Work environment and esteem workplace||Supportive environment|
|Compensation||Feel well remunerated|
|Student relationships, personality, and knowledge of learners||Relates well with students and understands what they want|
|Dedication, engagement, lesson objectives, curriculum, knowledge management skills, and knowledge of learners||Skilled and dedicated to engaging with the students to achieve lesson objectives|
|Code of conduct, positive reinforcement, active supervision||Developing a code of conduct aimed at positive reinforcement and active supervision|
|Makes work easier, class webpage, improved communication, email exchange, improved learning outcomes, and class blog and wiki||Technology makes work easier, improves communication, and improved learning outcomes. Should be implemented through a class webpage, class blog, or wiki|
Table 7. Shows the various patterns of themes identified from the coded data across the different interviews Source: (self)
Data from the observations made were recorded using a rating scale documenting the quality of the teachers’ performance. As such, the observations made helps establish the effectiveness of Southwood School’s HRM strategies in the recruitment, selection, training, and development of its staff. The rating scale was selected because it allowed the researcher to assign a specific numeric value to the rated object which in turn made it easier to measure the rated attributes of teaching in Southwood School. Table 4 shows the rating scale used to record the data observed.
|A||Rating||Rarely (1)||Once in a while (2)||Sometimes (3)||Most of the time (4)||Almost always (5)|
|2||Punctuality in the class||✔|
|4||Scheduled organization of assignments||✔|
|5||The teacher leaves class on time||✔|
|7||Focus on syllabi||✔|
|8||Effectively communicates the subject matter||✔|
|9||Activities make subject matter meaningful||✔|
|10||Provides additional learning material apart from the textbook||✔|
|11||Links subject to life experiences||✔|
|12||Creates interest in the subject||✔|
|13||Refers to the latest developments in the field||✔|
Table 8. Shows the rating scale of used to record the data observed Source: (self)
One of the most effective measures of how the institution achieves its HRM goals involves performance evaluation. Organizational researcher Hannan leverages the theory of organizational ecology which holds that the organizational effectiveness is contingent on the environs in which it operates (p.51). As such, since the institution delivers adequate HR performance despite the challenging and demanding environment it operates, it is more effective in its recruitment, selection, and training and development strategies than others that perform similarly without necessarily encountering challenges.
Challenges and opportunities
The qualitative data collected and analyzed indicates that the majority of teachers scored poorly on the “Time sense” and “Punctuality in the class” measures. Moreover, the results show that the organization did not utilize best practices during recruitment, resulting in hiring candidates who are not best suited for the teaching positions since time management is one of the critical skills in teaching. Therefore, it may be insufficient to use only one type of recruitment method because the school has enough employment resources that can be optimized to increase the overall outcomes (Robinson 8). The previous method led to the hiring of candidates whose career life in the organization was incredibly short. As a result, the participants scored low in the observations made, especially in their focus on syllabi and ability to effectively communicate the subject matter. Finally, trainees seemed to encounter difficulties with grasping the new HR program because they were unfamiliar with it. As such, the current recruitment and training programs may be ineffective in ensuring the teachers achieve the set objectives.
The results from the interview data analyzed indicate that that the teachers are satisfied with their job and career progression, but most believe it could lead to international opportunities. Moreover, they felt the environment was supportive and well remunerated, and the school can leverage the high rate of job satisfaction to improve productivity. Consequently, job advertisements for teaching positions are likely to reach out to more people as well as elicit them to send their applications (Robinson 9). Finally, the teachers believe technology makes work easier, improves communication, and learning outcomes and should be implemented through a class webpage, class blog, or wiki. Consequently, the school’s strong IT team can be asked to strengthen the current strategies employed by teachers to incorporate technology in learning. For example, the IT team can design better and more uniform classroom websites that are accessible through the school’s URL.
Problems Faced by Other U.K Organizations
Other organizations within the U.K economy also face a myriad of HRM challenges, especially during the recruitment, training, and development of human resources. One of the factors escalating these problems is Brexit since employers are now faced with numerous difficulties in recruiting and retaining workers. Although Brexit has had a significant impact on the labor market by reducing the number of workers from the EU, it has also resulted in the dramatic rise in the U.K workforce. Another challenge faced by many UK organizations is the lack of domestic applicants to fill job vacancies, thus forcing them to hire European Union immigrant workers (Sampson 166).
There four primary domains in HRM that are key in maximizing the organizational performance which include recruitment, selection, training, and development.Southwood School was selected for the study due to its rigorous HRM that focuses on active recruitment of employees based on these domains. As such, the institution presents numerous learning and development activities for teachers.
Coughlan, Sean. “England’s schools face ‘severe’ teacher shortage.” bbc. n.p., 2018. https://www.bbc.com/news/education-45341734
Hannan, Michael T. “Ecologies of organizations: Diversity and identity.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 19.1 (2005): 51-70. https://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdf/10.1257/0895330053147985
Knowles, J. Gary, and Ardra L. Cole. Handbook of the arts in qualitative research: Perspectives, methodologies, examples, and issues. Sage, 2008.
Maas, Cora JM, and Joop J. Hox. “Sufficient sample sizes for multilevel modeling.” Methodology 1.3 (2005): 86-92.
Peters, Mark, and Peter Richardson. “BREXIT – Responding to the Challenges and Opportunities Related to Talent Acquisition and Management | Protiviti – United Kingdom.” Protiviti.com. n.p., 2019.
Sampson, Thomas. “Brexit: The Economics of International Disintegration.” Journal of Economic Perspectives vol. 31, no. 4 (2017), pp. 163-184.
Southwood Primary. “Our Vision, Aims and Values.” Southwood Primary, 2008.
Taylor, Frederick Winslow. Scientific management. Routledge, 2004. https://dspace.gipe.ac.in/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10973/41111/GIPE-191173.pdf?sequence=3
The Guardian. “UK manufacturers facing biggest worker shortage in 30 years.” The Guardian. n.p., 2019.
Wren, Daniel A., Arthur G. Bedeian, and John D. Breeze. “The foundations of Henri Fayol’s administrative theory.” Management Decision 40.9 (2002): 906-918. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.519.3372&rep=rep1&type=pdf
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