Wanted: selfish teachers

22nd August 2003 at 01:00
Ad campaign to be repitched as TTA research shows worthy self-sacrifice no longer appeals to would-be recruits

A multi-million pound advertising campaign to attract teachers is to be scrapped because the profession's traditional image of worthy self-sacrifice is putting people off.

Altruism is no longer enough to attract a new generation of classroom workers and must be tempered with an appeal to more selfish instincts, research for the Teacher Training Agency shows.

Potential recruits like the idea of "making a difference" but are put off by the fear this could involve an "unenjoyable daily grind", officials have been told.

The TTA is now replacing its "Those who can, teach" campaign, which featured appeals to men to become male role models and invited physics graduates to explain inertia to teenagers.

Next month new TV and cinema adverts will try to appeal to "self-interested idealists". They are understood to portray teachers as rounded individuals in a modern profession who "get something enjoyable out of every day they teach". They will also suggest teaching is a "people" job and more rewarding than life in an office.

The adverts have been devised by McCann-Erickson, who were behind the award-winning "Those who can, teach" campaign and who have worked on campaigns for Baccardi Breezer, Coca-Cola and MasterCard.

Next month's campaign follows a number of novel approaches by the TTA this year to woo people to teaching. Advertising has appeared on London Underground platforms and billboards in towns throughout England.

Fitness First health clubs around the country have also been targetted and during the Bollywood film season a TTA cinema advert was given a voiceover in Hindi by the actor Saeed Jaffrey.

During the past year more than 35,000 people have started teacher training and figures earlier this month showed a 14 per cent increase in applications since last year. However, more than two-thirds of maths courses have at least one vacancy and an even higher proportion of RE, music, general science and technology courses still have places.

The TTA is particularly keen to encourage people to change careers in an attempt to increase recruitment to the priority subjects, particularly maths, science and modern languages.

It has refused to comment before the launch of next month's advertising campaign other than to confirm the adverts will be designed by McCann-Erickson. But the government body responsible for initial teacher training will have to fulfil the task with a reduced budget after a surprise pound;9 million cut imposed by Whitehall.

Delays and over-runs on individual training projects meant the TTA had a historic pound;15.5m surplus, money it had planned to count against the pound;16m deficit run up by March 2003.

But most of the surplus will now be retained by the Government, a TTA spokesman confirmed this week.

Latest TTA accounts show chief executive Ralph Tabberer got a 6.5 per cent pay rise, well above the 3.5 per cent awarded to teachers, taking his salary to pound;99,000 in 2002-3. This is partly a reward for three successive years of increased training numbers.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "It is important to portray teaching as a professional career rather than as a vocation. A poorly paid vocation without good career prospects and with a heavy workload is not going to be attractive. We have to demonstrate that teachers of the future will be professionals free of excessive government red tape and bureaucracy."

Leader, 12

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