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Writing a job description: template and guidance

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Last updated on 15 June 2017
School types: All · School phases: All
In-depth article
Is there guidance for schools on writing job descriptions? We have created a downloadable KeyDoc template for a job description, to be adapted for any school-based role. This article also includes guidance from Acas, One Education and two local authorities on writing and reviewing job descriptions.

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Contents

  1. 1 Template: KeyDoc job description
  2. 2 Guidance
  3. 3 Reviewing the job description
  4. 4 More from The Key on the recruitment process

Article features

  • 1 download
  • 6 external links

Template: KeyDoc job description

We have developed a generic template for a job description that can be adapted for any school-based role.

The template includes space to enter details such as:

  • The job title
  • Details of the post (including salary and contract type)
  • The main purpose of the role
  • Duties and responsibilities

The template also includes a field to enter the next review date for the job description, and there is space for the headteacher (or line manager) and postholder to sign and date the document.

You can download the KeyDoc from the link below:

More templates and examples

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has produced an outline of a job description:

Ealing Council has also produced generic job descriptions for several teaching and leadership positions in its schools, which you may find helpful when developing your own job descriptions.

A section of The Key’s website looks at job descriptions for various roles. You may find other schools' job descriptions a useful reference when developing your own.

Guidance

This section outlines guidance from Acas, Hampshire County Council and Ealing Council on writing a job description. 

Purpose

Page 9 of the Acas guidance says that a good job description can: 

  • Help the employer clarify the requirements of the job
  • Help the employer clarify how a new recruit might need to be trained and settled into the role
  • Provide a basis for drawing up the person specification
  • Set expectations up-front for how performance is likely to be managed

Qualities

The guidance Hampshire County Council produced for its schools explains that a job description:

  • Will vary in format according to the type and complexity of the role
  • Has to be an attractive offer to attract the right candidates
  • Must be concise, but not too brief

Contents

Pages 8-9 of the Acas guidance say that a job description should set out the role's:

  • Main purpose – this should be done in one simple sentence
  • Main tasks – this should be a list of specific tasks, rather than general descriptions
  • Scope – this should outline why the job is important and how it fits in with the rest of the organisation

Outlining the duties and responsibilities

When outlining the main duties and responsibilities of the role, guidance from Ealing Council advises its schools: 

  • Do not list every possible activity that may be involved in the job, but identify the range of work involved 
  • Think first about what the postholder will spend most time doing, and list the duties in order of how time consuming they are 
  • If the job includes different areas of work, group the duties under different headings 
  • Distinguish between tasks performed by the postholder, and tasks performed by others that the postholder is accountable for 
  • Avoid jargon 
  • Summarise as much as you can, and leave items out that "go without saying". For example, if the role has line management responsibilities, you do not need to specify that this involves monitoring the attendance of direct reports 

To provide flexibility, the Hampshire County Council guidance recommends including a line that says the role includes "such other duties as may be required by the manager".

Avoiding discrimination

The Acas guidance says: 

An employer should be careful not to potentially discriminate in compiling the job description and the person specification. For example, does the role really need to be full-time? Or could it be done by two people working part-time in a job-share?

Another article from The Key looks at avoiding discrimination when writing job adverts

Reviewing the job description

A representative from One Education told us that if a member of staff has taken on significant new responsibilities, his/her job description should be changed to reflect this.

The representative also advised that schools should look at each job description once a year, as part of performance management. However, they need not make changes unless there is a specific reason to do so.

More from The Key on the recruitment process

Writing a job description is just one stage of the recruitment process for schools.

Other articles from The Key can help you with the other stages. For example, we have articles that look at:

Once recruitment is over, you might find our articles on induction and probation useful.

This article was updated in response to a question from the school business manager of a medium-size urban primary school in the south east.

More from The Key

The Key has taken great care in publishing this article. However, some of the article's content and information may come from or link to third party sources whose quality, relevance, accuracy, completeness, currency and reliability we do not guarantee. Accordingly, we will not be held liable for any use of or reliance placed on this article's content or the links or downloads it provides. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence.