The Scottish government spent more than half a million pounds last year trying to persuade people to enter teaching – more than it spent on urging people to stop smoking or informing them how to detect cancer early.
In 2017-18, a total of just over £513,000 was spent promoting teaching as a career, with the largest part of the budget – roughly £164,000 – used to sell the job online.
The spending – revealed through a freedom of information request – represented roughly 10 per cent of the government’s total marketing outlay of approximately £5.7 million in 2017-18 and was almost 60 times the amount spent marketing teaching two years earlier, in 2015-16, when the cost was just £8,600.
In 2016-17, approximately £350,000 was spent on marketing for teacher recruitment.
The only Scottish government marketing drive that had more money dedicated to it last year was the promotion of early learning and childcare. Its marketing budget hit almost £750,000 as the government geared up for the expansion to 1,140 free hours in 2020 – a move that it is estimated will require an additional 12,000 full-time staff.
The struggle to recruit enough teachers
In comparison, approximately £371,000 was spent on marketing for smoking cessation and £421,000 on marketing for early cancer detection.
Other sums spent promoting education initiatives included £271,000 promoting the Read, Write, Count campaign and £12,000 spent on Play, Talk, Read, both of which aim to stimulate interactions between parents and their children.
The education secretary, John Swinney, announced the launch of the Teaching Makes People campaign in early 2017. Its goal was to attract undergraduates studying shortage subjects, such as maths and technological studies, into teaching, as well as career-changers.
Figures published towards the end of last year showed that more places on secondary teacher education courses had been filled this academic year (2018-19) – but overall targets were lower and still one in 10 places remained unfilled.
Meanwhile, a report published recently by school inspection body Education Scotland said that the teacher shortage was having a detrimental impact on flagship Scottish government policies and was “a national issue”.
The Scottish government marketing figures are revealed on the same day as an analysis of a TV marketing campaign by England’s Department for Education showed that it cost £1,140 per person who registered interest online in teaching a shortage subject.
The shortage subjects were mathematics, chemistry, physics, modern languages and computer science.