Interview with SEND Expert and Managing Consultant: Niall Murphy

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn:

  • About the experience of an education and SEND Managing Consultant working across the UK.
  • About the current challenges facing the education and SEND sector.
  • How to find and apply for the best Education and SEND jobs.

In our latest blog feature, ‘Interview with a Recruiter,' we're connecting with recruiters at Spencer Clarke Group to unveil valuable insights and innovative strategies for effective hiring across our diverse range of eleven specialisms.

This time, we sat down with our Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) expert and Managing Consultant Niall Murphy, who recruits daily cover, temporary and permanent placements for primary and special needs schools across the North West of England.

Niall has worked in education recruitment since 2014 and is an expert in his field. He joined Spencer Clarke Group in 2022 and has grown from strength to strength, even being promoted from Senior Recruitment Consultant to Managing Consultant within just 12 months.

Having trained and worked as a Teacher for two years, Niall Murphy knows what it's like first hand to work in the classroom, making him the perfect recruiter for the education sector. Working in a rewarding market like mainstream and SEND recruitment, Niall shared the problems facing the recruitment sector and he goes above and beyond to solve those challenges.

Niall, tell us about yourself

I am a father to my little girl Lottie and a dog dad to a dalmatian puppy whose name is Dottie. I’m also a cheese loving, food spilling and coffee slurping happy chappy that loves playing rugby.


How did you end up in the world of recruitment?

Quite simply, a friend said I would be good at it, and it turns out they were right. I had just moved over to Manchester after leaving a Teaching Assistant job in a primary pupil referral unit (PRU) and I needed a job. 

My friend who was in education recruitment thought because I had worked in a classroom in my previous role, that I would be a good fit to find people to work in schools.

I did a short stint in a call centre for about 6 weeks, and realised that that wasn’t the environment for me. So, I guess we merged my previous career experiences and work environments together, to find special needs staff in a sales-type role!


What does your role at Spencer Clarke Group entail?

I manage the SEND team and support special needs schools, alternative provisions and Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) schools in Manchester with their immediate staffing needs and also permanent staffing solutions. I make sure to tailor to what the schools require.

I put out recruitment adverts and other various avenues to try and attract talent to work in these sort of settings. I also support members of the team to get to the next level in their recruitment journey through training and mentoring.

Who do you work with?

I work with schools and provisions all accoss the UK but specifically in the North West that cater for students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) difficulties.

Our teams support mainstream schools and alternative education providers, and I work with a number of organisations that support the most vulnerable people in Manchester. 

Some schools are for pupils that have been excluded temporarily or permanently, and some are for students with severe SEND needs and more complex learning needs.

Can you give us an insight into how the education and SEND sector works?

There’s a lot of people who try and get a role in a school but haven’t got the right qualifications or a certificate to say they can work within a school. For instance, I might find somebody who has worked in a residential care home for 5 years, but they might not secure a permanent position within a school because they haven’t got a 6-week training programme that says they are a Teaching Assistant Level 1, 2 or 3.

As we’re trying to engage pupils that maybe haven’t attended school or haven’t had any success within school, so it’s not all about the academic side of the Teacher or Teaching Assistants. 

It’s more about the pastoral side, being able to build relationships and engage with a hard to reach young person. You do that through finding people with the right personality and skills as opposed to finding the most qualified person who can support only them academically.

What is the best part of being a recruiter for the education and SEND sector?

The best thing about recruiting for the education and SEND sector is that I still get to visit schools and that I get to spend a day or a morning there just getting to know the school and their routines. Being a former Teacher, it’s great that I still get the chance to go out and support the clients that I work with.

I also enjoy speaking to a lot of people, networking and I like a challenge! If there's a particular area in which a school is struggling with recruitment wise, I like to jump on that further support them in a way that other recruiters won’t. 

Whether it be Headteacher or an Assistant Headteacher, I like to jump on the challenge. It’s great knowing that you are making a difference and when a school takes on a candidate on a permanent basis, it means I’m doing my job right!


What are the current challenges facing the education job market?

I would say that talent attraction and the shortage of Teachers is challenging, as you need to be able to look through the CV, and consider those with limited experience. We get a number of roles for qualified Teachers with SEND or SEMH experience, and the current job market and candidate market is slim. It’s about how we can attract talent by even offering them a supply role as opposed to a permanent role.

Also, the rising number of pupils being assessed and diagnosed with complex needs or getting an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP), has resulted in the rise of numbers within these provisions, which is causing staff shortages and the need for the right staff, especially Teachers.

How does Spencer Clarke Group help overcome these challenges?

To overcome these challenges, we find people from different backgrounds in different sectors, whether that be health and social care, youth work or ex military, just to try and cherry pick the ones that would really work within the setting.

At Spencer Clarke Group, we take the time to find out and understand why someone wants to work in a school and we look for reasons that might not be obvious on a CV or application. We also try to encourage schools to use unqualified Teachers, so that might be a Level 3 or Level 4 Teaching Assistant, or somebody that has undergone training or development, or ran care homes and done things slightly differently.

We’re trying to push these individuals to get qualified through school channels. It’s working really well for one client in Manchester, who has enrolled, I think 7 of our candidates on to a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career in the education or SEND sector?

Join Spencer Clarke Group, work harder than the people on either side of you, learn from your mistakes, and don’t be afraid to make them in the first place.

Also, jump on as many courses as you can and attend exhibitions. If you’re already working in a school, schools really focus on Continued Professional Development. Any courses you can gain access to or relevant qualifications, do them!

Also, don’t be afraid to move jobs. I think in the Teacher market, everyone loves the school they’re in, but there might not be opportunities for progression within that school. 

If you’re a Teacher of 3 to 5 years, and you’ve not moved roles, you might find yourself pigeon-holed within your current school. Find the right school for you, they are all different.

If you have a look on the job market and see any adverts with a Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR) posts or an additional responsibility, put in an application if you think that school would suit you.

The way you do that is probably fast-tracking up the ladder, as opposed to earning your stripes the general way and hoping that an opportunity comes within your current school.

What does the future hold for you at Spencer Clarke Group?

I want to be seen as a leader of the business with a high performing team that works hard, delivers and succeeds all expectations. The vision is to build other disciplines underneath that Greater Manchester base when we do mainstream, primary and secondary.

I hope to be a Divisional Manager overseeing a team which will cover Greater Manchester and even beyond. Hopefully we’ve got the plans for expansion in place and we go for it and make a real effort once we’ve found the right establishment in that area.

Recruit SEND Teachers

As a specialist SEND recruitment agency, we support mainstream and SEND schools with their temporary, permanent and temp-perm staffing needs. 

We currently work with hundreds of schools and have exclusive access to some of the best SEND Teachers and SEND Teaching Assistants in the North West.

If you’re struggling to fill a teaching vacancy, why not get in touch with one of our team to see how we can help?

If you enjoyed this interview, you’ll love this content:

SEND Teacher jobs

If you’re searching for your next SEND Teacher job, why not take a look at the latest teaching vacancies, or simply upload your CV to be notified when a relevant position becomes available.

Who is Spencer Clarke Group?

We are an energetic recruitment agency with a passion for culture, innovation and positivity. From the way we conduct business, to our core values, we are driven by our commitment to the evolution and progression of the recruitment industry.

We are determined to transform the recruitment experience and have a positive and meaningful impact on everyone we encounter.

We operate in two sectors:

Private Sector

Public Sector 

In eleven specialisms:

Accountancy & Finance

Education & SEND

Construction, Trades & Labour

Healthcare, Social Care & Nursing


Corporate Functions & Business Support

HR & Workforce Development

IT & Digital

Property & Asset Management  

Planning, Development & Regeneration 

Highways, Infrastructure & Engineering

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