With 16 years’ experience in the education sector under his belt, our founder James is passionate about bringing talent to the education sector, nurturing careers, and ensuring children have the best possible education. Having been headteacher at specialist independent school EdStart for 9 years, James now owns and runs EdStart, whilst also sitting at the helm of Grolife, a group of organisations all designed to support the education sector.
Frustration and disillusionment with both the process and the quality of candidates for his education businesses prompted James to launch Moxi, bringing his hard-earned expertise to shake up the world of education recruitment.
Moxi Recruitment matches schools with candidates who are dynamic, informed, prepared and inspired about the difference they can make.
Here, James shares the lessons he’s learned over his career in education and how this propelled him to make the leap into education recruitment.
Tell us about Moxi
Moxi specialises in recruitment and training for the education sector. We stand out as a business because we’re all educators or former educators ourselves, so we know the challenges and pitfalls of recruiting strong teachers and support staff. At Moxi we’re absolutely passionate about only putting the best candidates in front of schools. Even for our support staff candidates, we’ve set a benchmark that six months’ experience working in a school is required. If the candidate doesn’t have this level of experience, we provide them with a short but intensive training course that covers training for SEN, mental health, first aid, behaviour management and more. What makes Moxi unique is our direct access to our partner schools, which allows for hands-on training in a classroom setting.
Why did you launch the business?
Our own struggles to bring quality resources into the classroom prompted me to launch Moxi, as well as the national staffing shortages we face as a sector. Our aim is to encourage talent to join the sector, whether that’s people in the early stages of their career or those from other sectors looking to switch. We want to ensure that those new to the sector are prepared for the challenges of a career in education so that they can fully experience how rewarding a career in education can be.
What’s your professional background?
I originally wanted to join the police force, but I came across an opportunity to deliver a sports coaching NVQ and was quickly offered the chance to complete a PGCE and train to become a teacher. I decided to go for it because I really enjoyed working with young people and offering the support that I felt was missing when I was struggling at college. After teaching sport, public services, and social policy in different sectors across Manchester, the EdStart alternative education programme was set up in 2010 and we’ve never looked back. It’s been an incredible journey.
What about your own education? Were you inspired by your teachers?
I did quite well in school, despite being a cheeky student at times, because I knew when to get my head down. I definitely preferred the social aspect of school, and my fondest memories are those that involved spending time with friends and playing sports.
During my first year of college, I went through some hard times personally, when my stepfather sadly passed away. At this point my journey through education took a different path. It was a dark period of my life, and I didn’t feel supported or motivated by my teachers in college. I eventually decided to leave college and got a job in retail but when my friends finished university and secured graduate jobs it motivated me to achieve more, so I started a degree at university when I was 23 and left with a 2.1 in Sociology and Social Policy.
That thinking space in my learning journey helped shape me and made me realise there were different career paths that could open to me. It’s made me receptive to people with the potential to go far in a new career: something we do really well at Moxi is nurturing talent from outside of the sector.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the education sector?
Short term, there’s an issue of a shortage of candidates. I think the biggest longer-term challenge, though, is the amount of teaching staff leaving the sector due to stress and a heavy workload. As educators, we found the vacancies this created were being filled by underqualified and inexperienced people who were not prepared enough to face the rewarding – but very real – challenges of the world of education.
The power of inspiring teachers can’t be underestimated, and I think as a sector, we need to come together to keep that spark and passion alight. Moxi does this by making candidates’ experience a good one – if a new teacher or teaching assistant is well trained and prepared, they make a better impression at schools with staff and pupils, and they feel empowered about the impact they can make.
We’re also committed to looking after the teams at our EdStart schools: we know it’s important to switch off after work, and thanks to our great relationships with a network of schools looking for staff, we can help build this ethos on a wider scale.
This level of care of all people in education helps bring the right calibre of staff into schools – professionals who understand and can relate to young people with the skills and training to deal with the pressures that follow.
Great teachers are just part of the puzzle, though: the impact of strong support staff around them needs to be recognised too, and pastoral support teams play a vital role.