The Department for Education deliberately schedules teaching recruitment adverts to run while the TV show Countdown is on, a senior adviser has revealed.
The DfE’s chief scientific adviser and chief analyst Tim Leunig (article free to subscribers) told the ResearchED 2016 conference in London last Saturday that showing adverts during "the hour Countdown is on" helps to grab students’ attention.
"We know exactly how many people click on the Get Into Teaching website every day," he added. "The day after we have a television advert, more people click on the site. The best programme turns out to be Countdown.
"Countdown is watched by students after lectures and before they go out in the evening."
The Jeremy Kyle effect
Timing TV recruitment campaigns to coincide with the 45-minute show – aired at 3.10pm each weekday – results in increased visits to the site, Dr Leunig said.
He added that the same effect could be seen with other programmes shown "in the hour Countdown is on", such as Escape to the Country and The Jeremy Kyle Show.
Recruitment adverts have been shown during Countdown's commercial breaks as well as on other channels around the same time.
In making his comments, Dr Leunig was responding to a question about the "unintended consequences" of government policies, such as the proposed expansion of grammar schools.
He said: "Believe me, teacher recruitment and teacher retention is front and centre in ministers’ minds.
"The government will be monitoring the number of clicks on the site as the policy is developed, he added, saying: "So if we notice a drop, then we’ve found something, if we don’t notice a drop, then we will continue."