Launching the national Teaching Vacancies Service

Department for Education

A person using the service on a tablet

One of the biggest learning experiences for us was integrating with Sign-in

Schools in England spend an estimated £75 million each year advertising jobs online. We worked with the Department for Education (DfE) to create a national vacancies service to help schools spend less on advertising jobs, freeing up money for things they need


Working with DfE through alpha, beta and to live, we’ve helped create the Teaching Vacancies Service. The service gives schools more control over their recruitment budgets and makes it easier for teachers to find jobs.

The service met all eighteen points in the beta service assessment. That means it’s based on an understanding of user needs, addresses security and privacy issues, uses open standards, and has performance indicators that will help DfE keep improving the service as the number of users increases.

It has been rolled out nationally.

What we did

Building a public service that helps users connect to each other

To successfully connect school hiring staff with thousands of potential applicants we needed to carry out in-depth user research. This included prototyping and usability testing several iterations of the service on multiple devices with over 250 research participants. We ran workshops where school hiring staff and applicants were supported and encouraged to be the main designers, ensuring they had a strong voice in the development of the service.

Every service we help build must be fully accessible. We put the service through an accessibility audit, and carried out assisted digital research to ensure the right support model was put in place.

Posting once and being found in many places

We designed the service’s publishing tool to post job listings that matched the open source Job Posting Standard. This means vacancies can also be found on search engines like Google and Indeed Jobs, and reach the largest possible audience no matter where candidates are looking for roles.

Integrating with the DfE sign-in platform

We were the first service to adopt DfE Sign-in – an identity and access management tool to be used across all DfE digital services. Using platforms or shared components is part of the Government Transformation Strategy and helps teams build services quickly and consistently. But it can make life more complicated in the short term.

In this case, the two projects had very different timelines – DfE Sign-in was in alpha when Teaching Vacancies was in beta. To enable us to begin on-boarding schools, we had to develop interim sign-in solutions while DfE built their long-term sign-in solution – allowing the two projects to keep progressing in parallel.

What we learned

One of the biggest learning experiences for us was integrating with Sign-in.  This would have been impossible had we not kept an open channel of communication and worked in genuine collaboration with the DfE Sign-in project team – sharing our findings along the way.