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'Use your head' ads aid shortage subjects

Advertisements that feature headless people in tedious jobs appear to have helped the teaching profession by prompting a dramatic increase in entrants planning to teach in shortage subjects.

Figures published this week by the Graduate Teacher Training Registry suggest that applications for places on graduate teacher-training courses beginning this year are up by a third in chemistry and physics compared with this time last year.

Applications for courses in maths, design and technology, music and general science have increased by more than a quarter.

The increase in PGCE applicants follows a pound;12 million advertising campaign by the Teacher Training Agency which used the slogan "Use Your Head - Teach".

A number of posters and television advertisements featuring headless characters at work were criticised by some teachers' unions as bizarre and in poor taste when they were launched last September.

The TTA said the Registry's figures matched its own findings and suggested the latest advertising campaign had been a success.

But a TTA spokeswoman said that, while the figures were highly encouraging, the number of applications did not necessarily translate into the numbers that would attend courses.

The GTTR's figures indicate that the numbers applying for the courses in England are up by 8 per cent overall, with a 15 per cent increase in those training to work in secondary schools.

No individual secondary subjects were less popular than last year, apart from sociology and Spanish, for which applications slipped very slightly.

The Liberal Democrats criticised the Government over the popularity of courses to teach infant or junior pupils, intakes for which fell by around 23 per cent.

Phil Willis, Lib Dem education spokesman, said: "Government cutbacks in teacher training have left our youngest children without sufficient teachers."

However, the numbers applying for courses to teach all primary ages increased by a third.

In contrast, Wales saw a fall of 5 per cent in applications for primary courses, although secondary applications rose by 15 per cent.

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