Teachers have complained to the advertising watchdog over claims in a new recruitment campaign that working in the classroom is "better than any anti-ageing cream" for keeping you young.
The Advertising Standards Authority confirmed this week it had received nine complaints criticising one of the Teacher Training Agency's new television advertisments.
A series of adverts show children at two secondary schools joking with their teacher, followed by slogans such as "work with the most exciting people in the country" and "work with the finest raw materials in the world".
But teachers have been incensed by one advert in the pound;12m campaign, which shows grinning pupils accompanied by the voice-over: "They're better than any anti-ageing cream."
In the past week, more than 90 comments have been posted on the TES website branding the adverts "patronising", "hilarious" and "bearing little resemblance to reality". An ASA spokesman said: "Our complaints team is looking into the matter and they will determine whether or not the adverts are misleading." If a complaint is upheld the TTA could be forced to pull the adverts altogether.
One 52-year-old English teacher, who did not want to be named, lodged a complaint last week. The teacher, who has worked in a west London comprehensive for the past 28 years, said: "The adverts are completely misleading. Teaching doesn't keep you young and you certainly aren't confronted with cheery, smiling children every day.
"I don't want to see a load of new teachers walking into my school as happy bunnies thinking working here is going to keep them young because it isn't.
I've seen so many of my colleagues give up over the years because they are worn out: this job is the least family-friendly one you can do. If the TTA want to reflect reality they should make adverts more like Army recruitment ads."
One trainee teacher said of the adverts: "What the hell is all that about? I'm only one term into a PGCE and I look five years older than I did when I started."
Another teacher who has complained to both the ASA and TTA said: "I know of lots of people who have retired or quit teaching who look slightly younger, healthier and fitter just a few months later."
But Mike Watkins, acting director of teacher supply and recruitment at the TTA, attacked the critics and said the campaign had been a success, attracting a record number of enquiries.
The agency said comments about anti-ageing cream were light-hearted but reflected research showing most teachers went into the profession because they liked working with young people.
Two 40-second and one 10-second adverts, by advertising agency DDB London, focus on subjects with staff shortages. The TV slots are accompanied by 12 different posters at roadsides and on public transport.
Last year's TTA adverts employing images of headless characters in tedious jobs, under the banner "Use your head, Teach", were called "poor taste" by one union official.