A specialist education recruitment consultancy, Clarus Education believes that the UK education system deserves the best. Co-founders Danny Jillions and Alison Watkis partnered with Recruitment Entrepreneur in 2015 in order to provide an unrivalled service to teachers and schools alike. 2019 has been a big year for Clarus; they opened an office in Manchester and launched their Aspiring Teachers Programme, designed to recruit graduates into the education sector. We sat down with two of the team, Senior Consultant Ryan Bingham and Consultant Shevonnae Sokoya, to chat about life at Clarus Education, their own school years and what makes an outstanding teacher.
What is the most rewarding thing about working in your sector?
Shevonnae: Knowing how much impact your role can make on children’s lives – the teachers we place can go on to inspire a whole class of kids.
Ryan: Graduates come to us not knowing what they want in life. We talk to them about being a teaching assistant, they go into a school as a TA and gain experience before completing their full training, and then they come back to us and we place them as a teacher. We make that whole 360 journey happen.
What were you like at school?
S: I was a teachers’ pet and absolutely loved school. I got 100% in every test; I needed to be number one. I wanted to be a neonatologist!
R: I wanted to be a fireman but was an absolute terror all the way up to year 9. Luckily, I turned it around just in time for GCSEs and A-levels so I got into university.
How did you start working at Clarus Education?
S: Clarus actually placed me as a teaching assistant! I then joined the team in a compliance role before becoming a consultant, which I’ve now been doing for a year and a half.
R: I started as an education consultant at the end of 2016, joining a fairly experienced team. Two years later I was promoted to senior consultant!
Shevonnae, what was your experience of being placed through Clarus Education?
S: The company is so normal that speaking with the consultants is like talking to a friend. The whole process was seamless – I met with a Clarus consultant, the next week she’d lined up an interview and the week after that I was in the perfect school for me.
What was the transition like going from teaching to placing within the sector?
S: It’s two completely different worlds – I went from being fuzzy and friendly, working with 5-year olds, to working with adults! But it’s definitely an advantage as I know exactly what the role entails and what they look for.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
R: Learn to swim – I only started lessons in January and I’ve got a triathlon in two weeks where I’ve got to swim 1500m! I was always the boy getting kicked out of swimming lessons for being naughty when I was younger, so I never learnt!
Clarus Education was founded 2015 – what aspect of working at a young company do you most enjoy?
R: The social side is a big plus; we’re constantly having a laugh. Everyone gets along and everyone’s there for one another. When we speak to candidates, we’re always thinking about who else in the team has roles that they could be good for.
S: The culture we have – we’re all in it together and you never feel like you’re alone. The incentives are also great. Last year we went on a 5* trip to Tenerife and we’ll hopefully be going to Cape Verde in January. As well as one of the best commission structures, we work reduced hours over the summer holidays. And our office is always filled with food!
How would you describe your company’s culture in three words?
S: Family; driven; teamwork.
Do you have any secret talents?
S: I used to do ballet and tap dancing.
R: This year I’ve done a half marathon, 100km cycle and then there’s the triathlon in two weeks!
What training and development have you received whilst at Clarus Education?
R: I started Recruitment Entrepreneur’s Future Leaders Programme which has helped me look at things differently and approach situations head on. Joining completely fresh, straight out of uni, I learnt everything from Danny and Alison. There’s a lot of progression potential at Clarus – if we ever want to venture out and do something a bit different, there’s always that opportunity. In September, I’m looking to become a team leader managing six consultants.
S: We have a lot of one-to-one mentoring from Danny and Alison. We sit in pods of six in the office so we’re always chatting and chipping in – that constant dialogue and cohesiveness is a big help.
What is your idea of a perfect holiday?
S: I like a real mix – being able to see the culture and go exploring but also chilling out. I’m off to Casablanca, Morocco in October but that’s all I’ve booked so far!
R: Relaxed with the drinks flowing! I’m going to Thailand next month for two weeks and New York at the end of the year.
You do lots of work within the community as a company – why do you think that’s important?
S: I think because so many of us have come from an education background, giving back is a big part of our hearts. We chose to partner with Action for Children as they’re closely aligned with who we are and what we stand for. On top of fundraising, we volunteer too – I went bowling with a group of kids over the Easter holidays.
R: A few of us recently did the half marathon for Manorfield Primary School to raise money for their nursery, and Danny and I are discussing doing the London to Paris cycle for Action for Children at some point. It’s great to have the opportunity to give back.
What has been the biggest milestone in your career so far?
R: I was really proud of my billings last year – I went from not really knowing the business to billing over £300k in only my second year of recruitment.
S: For me, it was being named the Consultant’s Consultant and Consultant of the Year, and then going to Tenerife for the top billers incentive. It all happened within my first year and it was really nice to be recognised for working hard.
What would your superpower be?
S: Teleportation – endless holidays.
R: Everything I’d touch would turn into money!
In your opinion, what makes a great teacher?
S: Being a primary school teacher is more than just the academic side of things; you have to be caring and understand that you’re moulding future generations. You have to also teach them how to care for each other and build friendships as that sets their foundation for building relationships later in life.
In your opinion, what makes a great school?
R: A school with a strong leadership team and good policies. A school needs to be inclusive and know how to cater to the needs of all the children.
S: Schools should be an extension of home life; providing that community and family feel.
How do you know if a candidate is right for the school?
R: Because we’re long-term, not supply, we work very closely with the school and understand what they’re like as individuals. When I interview someone, I instinctively get a feeling of which school they’d be perfect for.
How does Clarus Education support the careers of aspiring graduates?
R: Our Clarus Aspirations initiative helps graduates who are considering a career in education. We give them the experience they need in the education sector before they then can go on to get their masters or teacher training.
S: We’re partnered with two schools in Islington that are rolling out our three-year Aspiring Teachers Programme. Graduates spend the first year as a teaching assistant, the second year as a trainee teacher and the third year as a Newly Qualified Teacher. You get all the training and development you need to be an outstanding teacher. We’re currently finding those special candidates who have what it takes which is really rewarding.
What is your goal for 2019?
R: To become team leader, understand what motivates people and push myself even further.
S: This is the kind of industry where you’re constantly learning so it’s about ensuring you’re always putting new skills into practice and working for your next step. We’re coaching the new members of the team and personally I’m working towards becoming a senior consultant.
Interested in a career in education or looking for outstanding additions to your school? Discover how Clarus Education champions excellence and the service they provide.