Adverts target shortage subjects

3rd September 2004 at 01:00
Children are the selling point in a new recruitment campaign. Graeme Paton reports

Controversial teacher recruitment advertisements featuring headless figures are to be dropped as a new pound;12 million campaign is launched this month.

The Teacher Training Agency will turn the spotlight on to "normal" pupils at two secondary schools as part of the television, billboard and magazine blitz.

The adverts will be tailored to appeal to secondary teachers in shortage subjects - including maths, science, languages, music and RE - after record numbers of applications to primary courses.

For the past 12 months, the TTA has employed images of headless people in tedious jobs under the banner, "Use your head. Teach." It said the adverts, which were criticised for being in "poor taste" by one union official, helped to boost applications to teacher training colleges by nearly 4 per cent (45,000) this year.

The new campaign will focus on pupils in an attempt to "sell the appeal of teaching" to a new generation. Posters and TV adverts will display images of children in the classroom with the slogans, "Work with the most exciting people in the country" and, "Work with the finest raw materials in the world."

Geof Webb, the TTA's director of communications and marketing, said the idea for the adverts came from teacher focus groups.

He said: "Overwhelmingly, when we asked teachers what they liked about the job they said one thing - the children.

"Children are funny, unpredictable, and teachers enjoy working with them - not in an office with a set of boring people. That's what we wanted to focus on with this campaign."

Two 40-second TV adverts have been commissioned along with two condensed 10-second versions, to be shown in an initial six-week slot from September 13.

The TV campaign will be repeated in January and May.

At the same time, 12 billboard and magazine adverts will be displayed around the country focusing on the shortage subjects.

Pupils at two unnamed secondary schools in Essex and Middlesex were chosen to appear by DDB London, the advertising agency behind the new campaign.

The firm, which has created adverts for Nikon, Marmite and Volkswagen, picked the schools from a shortlist of 100.

The TTA said no adults will appear in the TV adverts. The camera will act as the "teacher" in the middle of the classroom as pupils work around it.

Pupils returned to school for two days in August as scenes were shot in their own classrooms. Secondary pupils were deliberately chosen by the TTA to help direct trainees to where they are most needed.

By July there had been more than 21,600 applications for 16,300 primary places. But, in contrast, teacher-training colleges have struggled to fill places in shortage secondary subjects.

The TTA will maintain its "Use your head. Teach" slogan at the foot of all adverts.


The new adverts are the latest in a series of extravagant campaigns to entice graduates into the classroom.

In the 1997 "No one forgets a good teacher" drive, high-profile names including Tony Blair, John Cleese, Bob Hoskins and Stephen Hawking recalled their favourite staff.

Three years later there was a new slogan, "Those who can, teach", with questions such as, "Can you teach 3-D to 2D?" fired at TV audiences.

In September 2003 the TTA adopted, "Use your head. Teach". The ads showed headless figures in mundane jobs. The latest adverts feature the same selling slogan but with a new series of 30-second TV spots.

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