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The Academy of Woodlands ATS

“Ofsted inspector very impressed with our applicant tracking system”

Academy of Woodlands Logo

Executive Summary

  • 463 pupils
  • 108 service staff
  • 23 teachers
  • 1 solution

Providing nursery and primary education in addition to offering its local community some high value services makes for a challenging set of recruitment requirements. CVMinder has enabled Paula, Office Manager, to:

  • Save time when advertising new vacancies
  • Gain wider access to applicants
  • Improve recruitment outcomes
  • Impress Ofsted during their recent inspection
  • Meet the Academy’s compliance and safeguarding obligations

The Client

The Academy of Woodlands has been rated as either Outstanding or Good over recent years. As a turnaround Academy, the passion of the Headmaster, Nic Fidaman, has been instrumental in the Academy’s development, success and growth.  The Academy is very supportive of the local community offering a number of facilities including a coffee shop, dance studio, gymnasium and floodlit football pitch. Due to the expansion of the Academy and its community facilities, there has been an incline in recruitment activity.

Paula Hollands is the Officer Manager at The Academy of Woodlands. As an early adopter, she has been using CVMinder ATS for three years and the system has allowed her to:

  • Recruit for all vacancies across the variety of services provided by the Academy
  • Manage all the Academy’s vacancy advertising
  • Ensure all safeguarding criteria is met

The Challenges

Prior to implementing CVMinder ATS, the Academy advertised all the schools vacancies via eTeach, an education specific Job Board. Adverts provided applicants but Paula faced key issues:

  • Inbox overload, especially for non-teaching vacancies
  • Direct applications via post and other sources had to be handled separately
  • Difficulty in Identifying any previous application history
  • Relevant safeguarding information wasn’t easily captured at the time of application
  • Shortlisting had to be completed after closing date

As the Academy expanded, Paula faced an increase in the number of vacancies. Her workload was increasing in other areas too, so managing every element meant risking losing good candidates to the detriment of the Academy.

The Solution

The Academy of Woodlands decided to invest in the software solution to help alleviate the challenges they were facing. Paula and the team were given a demonstration of CVMinder ATS and saw the benefits from the outset,

“XperiSoft demonstrated CVMinder ATS and we found this extremely helpful. It seemed really easy to use and it became clear that we could solve some problems we hadn’t yet thought about.”

By making applications electronic and integrating CVMinder ATS with the Academy’s website, people could download and return their application online.

If somebody is interested in working for us, we can have them register their details and find them easily in the future. In fact, CVMinder ATS will alert them with appropriate vacancies so that’s less work for me” explains Paula.

One of the biggest issues for the Academy is that recruitment isn’t continuous so any system had to be really simple to use.

I don’t need to contact XperiSoft very often because the system is so easy to get along with, but if I do need help with anything, they can see what I see and they can show me what to do. The service is excellent.

The Results

Ofsted Happy

It seems that Ofsted took an interest in the Academy’s recruitment process during their most recent inspection. Paula showed their inspector CVMinder ATS with a particular focus the pre-employment checks, tracking of safeguarding documents and the storage of historical data.

“Ofsted’s inspector was very impressed with the system and the overall recruitment process within the Academy.

Functionally beneficial

A number of CVMinder ATS functions have helped Paula to save a great deal of administration time. She can create advertisements from templates, attach regularly used documents and application forms with a click and avoided a great deal of repetition in the process.

“One function I have found extremely beneficial is the ability to clone an old advertisement. Many of our vacancies have the same job description, with just a few differences like the key stage they will be teaching. I can’t clone a vacancy on eTeach, but I can copy my cloned advert from CVMinder ATS. CVMinder really saves me time when posting new vacancies.”

Improved communication with candidates

CVMinder ATS has improved the speed and accuracy of communication with the school’s applicants. Previously, it wasn’t easy to track post and email correspondence, but Paula now communicates with all applicants via CVMinder. She gave an example of how the communication trail has helped with a previous applicant query,

“A nursery officer applicant was offered an interview via CVMinder ATS. Not having seen it, she called to ask how her application was progressing. I could clearly see via CVMinder ATS that I had emailed her on a specific date but she claimed not to have received it. It transpires that she had given an email address that she doesn’t access each day, so I advised her to update her details for future reference on her CVMinder account. It was great to have the information to hand and avoid any bad feeling.”

Marketing to a wider audience

CVMinder ATS allows Paula to analyse a vacancies traction and make changes where necessary. Recruiting for teachers within the area has proved difficult at times, but with CVMinder ATS the school can track where the applicants come from. Seeing individual referrers has helped Paula to develop some new industry connections and they have since registered on CVMinder, expanding the reach of each Academy vacancy.

Paula believes that any School or Academy would benefit from using CVMinder.

“It is concise, easy to use and, critically, helps us to ensure safeguarding within the recruitment process.”

Canterbury College’s Recruitment System

Canterbury College delivers growth in apprenticeships and student work placements with CVMinder HUB


Executive SummaryCanterbury College

  • 8,000 students to support
  • 4,000 students requiring work experience
  • 1,500 employer relationships
  • 650 apprenticeship requirements
  • 14 staff
  • 1 solution

Managing the delivery of relevant work experience to 4,000 students whilst providing a commercial recruitment service to 8,000 in total puts a good deal of pressure on Canterbury College’s Active Links team. However, the implementation of the CVMinder HUB solution allows Rhona Williams, Head of department, and her team to manage all student recruitment activities centrally.  Through the use of CVMinder Canterbury College was able to:

  • Manage all employer vacancies, apprenticeships and work placements in one place
  • Measure student employability and target appropriate support
  • Improve student employment outcomes
  • Increase productivity and reduce administration overheads
  • Help the team to meet its KPIs


About the client

Canterbury College provides Further and Higher Education services to over 8,000 students. Its Active Links Recruitment Service has grown and has current-day responsibility for acquiring and fulfilling full-time and part time vacancies, apprenticeships and student work placements across Kent.

Rhona Williams has worked at the College for 8 years and is responsible for:

  • the recruitment of all apprenticeship learners
  • development of the employability agenda
  • implementation of the work experience element of student Study Programmes

The team began as a small, almost traditional recruitment service working with local employers to place students into their live vacancies.

“Today we have in excess of 4,000 learners on study programmes, so over 4,000 students require work experience in addition to recruiting for hundreds of apprenticeship vacancies. We work with around 1,500 employers to fulfil these requirements and the team has grown from me and one other into a much bigger department.”


The challenges

In the beginning, the fledgling Active Links organisation relied upon Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and electronic files. As professionals, the team attempted to manage everything as diligently as possible, but it was inevitable that growth in both vacancy and application numbers would eventually force a rethink.

“We needed to make the hours count and become more productive. Our early successes brought more work, but we didn’t have a facility for people to upload their CVs, to communicate vacancies to students and process all applications efficiently.  Our very basic candidate management system started to creak.”

Another key issue concerned information sharing. Without a centralised solution, staff holidays and other absences created information gaps in active recruitment campaigns and that can be bad for business.

“As we became more successful and increasingly busy with the added demands of apprenticeships, we really felt the need to have a proper system.”

As Rhona and her team share similar recruitment backgrounds, they made use of their combined industry experience to specify, review and select a system that could meet the challenge of a broad set of requirements.


The solution

Functionally, Rhona and her team knew what they were looking for. The chosen solution would have to be flexible and comprehensive but, just as importantly, it must be very simple to use.

“We reviewed a number of recruitment solutions from local and international suppliers, but most of them were targeted at standard recruitment practices and we are recruiting in quite a unique environment. Students don’t generally have a rich career history, so traditional recruitment techniques don’t always work.  Unfortunately, lots of products were pretty rigid and didn’t give us the key features we required. “

CVMinder helps Active Links by centralising all recruitment activities with natural, secure information sharing between staff. In one system there is comprehensive support for apprenticeships, full-time and part-time work and work placements that are linked to study programmes. The Active Links team can alert students to appropriate vacancies in addition to centralising applicants from anywhere, including the National Apprenticeship Service.

CVMinder HUB also embeds employability support. This allows the team to assess a student’s employment skills via self-assessment and an embedded framework for CV, statement and interview measures. The data collected by CVMinder has helped with the successful targeting of extra-curricular workshops and drop-in sessions for students.

Rhona and her team know that the quality of support makes a real difference when an organisation increases its dependency upon any software solution.

The response and the customer service for CVMinder is really strong”, says Rhona. ”Someone will visit if we need anything and they are always at the end of the phone”.

Overall, Rhona believes the software and its developments have fully supported the team at Canterbury College Active Links. “As we have grown and expanded, so has the software. We haven’t ever reached the point where the software has fallen behind the requirements of a growing business, because CVMinder has evolved with us.”  The team has also benefited from some bespoke additions, such as collecting driving license information, photos and more which the team has found very helpful when searching for people in a very large candidate pool.

“All those little bits and pieces just gave CVMinder a bespoke feel, without the bespoke price tag. It is really competitive in terms of cost for us.”


The results


Time savings

Having a recruitment solution with additional employability support allowed the team to easily manage the student and employer journey. All information regarding each role and every student is stored within CVMinder and this allows every team member to efficiently access the information they require.

“There’s been a huge reduction in administration time”, says Rhona. “It’s certainly much quicker than trawling through an Excel spreadsheet and paper files. Also, students and external applicants are all very clear on how their details are being managed and they value the transparency.”


Improved outcomes

It seems that Students also feel the benefit of using CVMinder as they are alerted with appropriate new vacancies and this improves their likelihood of gaining employment. Additionally, Rhona is able to analyse data collected via student self-assessments and use this to shape and improve the employability provision delivered by the College.

“We have a solution for measuring student employability. We had data before, but it was harder to extract and interrogate, whereas now if someone assesses themselves I can generate a report easily across a group and identify strengths and weaknesses either at individual or group level. That has been really helpful, especially with thousands of students.”


Staying on track

CVMinder’s Management Reporting tools allow Rhona to review data and monitor team activity in line with the department’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

“We have a lot of KPIs to work towards and it’s great that I am now able to evidence our achievements. For example, we have over 5,000 active registrations. I have the report to prove it.”


Supporting growth

Overall, Canterbury College has benefited significantly by using CVMinder HUB. With a growing team and increased responsibilities CVMinder has allowed Rhona to overcome the unusual combination of challenges with recruitment and employability in education.

The Active Links team really feels the benefits of using CVMinder and they have seen the system grow as they have grown. In summary, Rhona describes CVMinder as,

flexible, productive and cost-effective. With tightening budgets and increasing student numbers, an investment in any software solution needs to tick those three points and CVMinder delivered on them”


Easy Applicant Tracking for Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral chose CVMinder ATS as an easy, affordable recruitment system for Not for Profit employers.

Canterbury Cathedral

Executive Summary

  • 1,400 years of history
  • 800 volunteers
  • 330 members of staff
  • 2 commercial businesses (Hotel and Shop)
  • 1 solution

Canterbury Cathedral is the oldest in the UK, so when Alison Brookman, Head of HR, wanted to modernise recruitment, she knew it would require care and consideration.  This Case Study was written only a few months after CVMinder ATS delivery, but the benefits are already compelling.

Haman Resources and Hiring Managers are collaborating to support the full recruitment lifecycle using CVMinder ATS. So far, Canterbury Cathedral has enjoyed a number of benefits:

  • Improved communication between HR and Hiring Managers
  • Reduced administration overheads
  • Increased the speed of communication with applicants
  • Improved the candidate experience

About Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral is situated in a World Heritage Site set in the heart of Canterbury, Kent. Its commercial interests include The Cathedral Lodge (a 70-room, on-site Hotel) and a gift shop. Hosting conferences, managing the visitor experience and caretaking the larger Cathedral site requires a workforce of approximately 330 staff and 800 volunteers.

Alison has worked for the Cathedral for four and a half years and she and her team

  • Manage all recruitment for the Cathedral, gift shop and hotel
  • Recruit across a number of disciplines including retail, hospitality, construction, administration and IT
  • Source people with specialist skills including stone masonry and stained glass conservation
Recruitment Challenges

Prior to implementing CVMinder ATS, the Cathedral’s recruitment process was predominantly paper based. With Hiring Managers spread between different buildings, the HR Team recognised a time delay in the recruitment process. They relied upon managers to shortlist from paper copies of CVs and Applications.  Alison explains the problem:

“We gathered all application forms delivered by post and email then photocopied them for the Hiring Managers. It wasn’t particularly timely or elegant as we basically gave them large piles of paper on the closing date of any position. Managers would then have to review each application and work towards a shortlist. It was a big job for them, especially for roles with higher applicant numbers, or at a times when more than one role closed simultaneously.”

Alison wanted to find a way of using technology to ease the problem and support a more efficient recruitment approach. Additionally, she recognised an increasing expectation among applicants for an open, online recruitment portal, available from anywhere at any time.

The solution

Whilst reviewing solutions, Alison met XperiSoft Limited at Kent2020. She shortlisted CVMinder ATS and independently met an established local CVMinder user.

“We went to see Canterbury College and they were very positive about CVMinder. They told us that CVMinder had felt tailored to their needs and that customer support was exceptional. That was really appealing to us as the bigger companies were less flexible in this regard.”

The choice for CVMinder ATS was made and we set about configuring their system. During implementation, Canterbury Cathedral received comprehensive training and support and Alison and her team have been very pleased with the standards all round.

“The CVMinder Team provided a full day of training at the outset for both the HR team and our internal IT specialists. That was more than enough to go through the entire system and we even published some vacancies on that day.  During training we identified one or two additional requirements and XperiSoft has already developed appropriate solutions, so it feels like CVMinder has been tailored just for us.  For instance, more senior posts commonly require a panel of 4 interviewers, but CVMinder didn’t have the space for this amount of information. XperiSoft expanded this area for us so that we could communicate it to interviewees and this was delivered free of charge.”

As the system has established itself, the benefits have become clear for Canterbury Cathedral.

The Results

Happy Hiring Managers

The reaction of Hiring Managers to CVMinder ATS was exceptionally positive. None of the Cathedral’s Hiring Managers have a recruitment background or prior exposure to any other Applicant Tracking System (ATS), but were able to effectively use the software from the outset.

“Some Managers started using the system before any training. They really like the way they can shortlist as they go along.  Managers receive a message with each new application so they can make a decision about that person before the closing date. This feature is saving them a lot of time and reducing confidential paper waste.”

Strengthened Communication

On a professional level, the HR department is very pleased with improved applicant communication.

“A key benefit for us concerns response time; we have really sped up our communication with applicants and that really helps with candidate attraction. This morning, for example, I had a number of applicants with whom I needed to communicate the same message, so I was able to email them as a group. In the past this was time consuming, but I just emailed 6 candidates in about 10 seconds”

Keeping up with technology

The HR department believes that its recruitment processes have strengthened and it now meets the expectations of most applicants. Overall, Alison feels that CVMinder ATS is perfect for Canterbury Cathedral and would recommend it on three key points; cost efficiency, ease of use and a more professional applicant experience.

Contact us now to find out why CVMinder is the best ATS for Not for Profit.