Karen Thornton reports on the latest attempt by the Government to bridge the yawning gap between supply and demand of staff
THE Government is pinning its hopes of solving the teacher recruitment crisis on a new advertising campaign to encourage 30,000 graduates to resist the lure of other professions in an increasingly competitive jobs market.
The new adverts are expected to be more subtle and challenging than the soft focus "No one forgets a good teacher" series.
The aim is to attract "thinking" candidates by highlighting the many skills teachers need.
But the figures on recruitment suggest that the new campaign will need to be very convincing to bridge the huge gap between teacher supply and demand.
Last year (1999-00) 27,940 students were recruited to initial teacher training in England and Wales, which was well below the Government's target of 31,020.
Despite an increase in applications, provisional figures suggest that this year's enrolments are likely to fall short of the target of 29,720 in England.
Ralph Tabberer, chief executive of the Teacher Training Agency, has previously conceded that the pound;10 million "No one forgets" advertisements, featuring Prime Minister Tony Blair and a host of celebrities, failed to boost recruitment despite its high profile.
He said the new drive - no figure has been put on the cost - was a key part of the Government's campaign to improve the quality of education in schools.
He and school standards minister Estelle Morris will be giving more details about the new recruitment campaign on Monday.
An update is also expected on the impact of other reforms which are designed to increase recruitment, such as fast-track schemes an training salaries for postgraduate trainees.
Mary Russell, secretary of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said the effectiveness of campaigns needed to be better evaluated.
"They are trying to be more focused and to make the advert more challenging to the viewer, and less immediately obvious. They hope this will appeal particularly to the bright people we want to attract into the profession," she said.
"But it takes time for messages to seep into the public consciousness. It's like training salaries.
"The Department for Education and Employment makes a few announcements, but everybody isn't actually hanging on the words of the DFEE.
"They said the 'No one forgets' campaign was a success because there were more calls to the TTA hotlines. But there might have been an increase anyway or it might not have been to do with the advert. The TTA says they are now developing a more sophisticated tracking system to build up data on applications, which is absolutely essential."
A TTA spokeswoman insisted the "No one forgets" adverts had been very successful in generating enquiries about teaching.
She added: "It has also been successful in raising the public esteem in which the profession is held. That has got to be a good thing, because if the image of teaching is improved it makes it more attractive."
But Eamon O'Kane, deputy general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "The problem still remains that you've got to have a fundamental shift in the pay and conditions of teachers before you are going to attract large numbers of trainees. All the advertising in the world won't disguise the realities."