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Writing a job description: template and guidance

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Last updated on 15 June 2016
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, local authorities and the NUT on writing and reviewing job descriptions.

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  1. 1 KeyDoc: job description template
  2. 2 ACAS: make the purpose, tasks and scope of the role clear
  3. 3 One Education: reviewing the job description
  4. 4 LA guidance on writing a job description
  5. 5 NUT briefing on job descriptions

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KeyDoc: job description template

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

[The template] 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:

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

More from The Key on the recruitment process

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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.

ACAS: make the purpose, tasks and scope of the role clear

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has published a guide to recruiting staff. Pages 8-9 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

ACAS has also produced an outline of a job description:

Include the main responsibilities

A representative from the HR and People team at One Education said that a job description should include the main responsibilities that the postholder is required to fulfil as part of his/her role.

For example, if a class teacher is also expected to be a subject co-ordinator, the subject co-ordinator responsibilities should be included in the job description.

One Education: reviewing the job description

The One Education representative also 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.

LA guidance on writing a job description

Hampshire County Council

Guidance from Hampshire County Council for its schools explains that a job description sets out the purpose and functions of the job, and will vary in format according to the type and complexity of the role.

The format of a job description will vary according to the type and complexity of the job

It also explains:

It has to be an attractive offer ...There is no point in dressing it up, or being vague, because you will not attract the right candidates.

The guidance says that when summarising the postholder's main duties, you could start with "the elements which take up most of the postholder's time". It says it may be helpful to distinguish between regular, intermittent and emergency duties, or to note an approximate percentage of time that will be spent on each duty.

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

Ealing Council

Ealing Council has also produced guidelines on recruitment and selection for its schools. It includes a section on writing job descriptions on pages 17-18, and a section on person specifications on pages 18-19.

The section on writing a job description gives advice such as:

  • When drafting the section on the purpose of the role, it may be helpful to think about other related jobs and consider how this role is different
  • It is not necessary to list every job activity which might possibly occur in the job. Instead, identify a range of work involved and to ensure that no activity is omitted which would illustrate the full scope of the post
  • Avoid using jargon that those outside the school will not understand
  • Describe what the job is aiming to achieve as well as the tasks the postholder will carry out

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.

NUT briefing on job descriptions

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has produced a briefing document for its members on job descriptions. It describes the purpose of job descriptions as to:

… set out a fair, clear and mutually understood statement of the grading and salary of the post held by the teacher and the work and responsibility reasonably attached to that post.

The NUT ... recommends including a line, where applicable, saying that the teacher’s professional duties are set out in the STPCD

It also recommends including a line, where applicable, saying that the teacher’s professional duties are set out in the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD).

The briefing document includes several template job descriptions drawn up in accordance with this framework. These include examples for teachers with different levels of responsibility at primary, secondary and special schools.

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.