Opening up a new school can be a daunting experience – it’s vital to have support from the right people around you. For event four of our Principle Designate series, we were fortunate to be joined once again by Sebastien Chapleau, founding Headteacher of La Fontaine Academy, who outlined how principle designates can build an effective team.

Being a leader – Instilling the vision

Every team needs a leader; for schools in pre-opening that’s the job of the Principal Designate.

As a leader, it’s essential to have a clear vision for your school that will help bring people together. By keeping the school’s aims at the heart of all stages of the process, from pre-opening until fully operational, the schools mission will not be forgotten. For a team to have clear sense of direction, it’s necessary that the Principle Designate models the culture they want instilled within their team.

Principal Designates cannot communicate the vision they have for their school enough during pre-opening, as it will help to underpin an effective recruitment strategy. If a school’s ethos is made clear throughout the hiring process, you’ll be able to find the right candidates, whose characteristics align to the school’s objectives.

Attendees were asked about the qualities they were looking for in their workforce. Some of the answers from Principal Designates who attended our event included:

  • Loyalty
  • Reliability
  • Selflessness
  • Being a risk-taker
  • Versatility

Teaching Vacancies

We were also joined by Justine Hunter, Stakeholder and Regional Engagement Lead for the Department for Education (DfE). Justine spoke about Teaching Vacancies - a DfE job-listing service. This site is an invaluable tool for Principle Designates seeking to build their new team.

Everything you need to know about the Teaching Vacancies website:

  • The service is free and easy to use. It was designed to save schools money during the teacher recruitment process.
  • Schools must be registered on Get Information About Schools, to advertise on Teaching Vacancies. If your academy trust is registered, they can list vacancies on your behalf.
  • Schools can advertise their first branch of vacancies, free of charge. 
  • Last month over 61,000 job seeking teachers visited the service. 
  • The website has received great feedback, and has been working in partnership with lots of education sector influencers to endorse and promote teaching vacancies. 

The DfE is currently looking for volunteers to share their experience with Teaching Vacancies. This would include creating blog posts and case studies, that will be shared on the website. This would also be a great promotional opportunity for your school. Please email if you wish to be involved in this opportunity.

To find out more about NSN events, keep an eye on our events pageNSN is always on the lookout for fantastic free schools to share their journey with others. If you are preparing to open and would like to share your experience with others, then our Events Team would love to hear from you – contact