Initial teacher training: marketing and recruitment guide
Marketing and recruitment guidance for School Direct and initial teacher training (ITT) providers.
Create a successful marketing campaign to help you attract and recruit the best trainee teachers to your ITT programme.
Marketing and recruitment timeline
January to Easter
Maximise your applications and focus on converting these to offers:
- consider how to attract more applicants – schools should work with their ITT provider to give presentations in universities; speak to local careers advisers and job centres; run or support a regional event
- attend recruitment events to attract applicants who are likely to apply later in the cycle, for example, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) applicants or career changers
- keep your website and social media presence up-to-date as you fill courses
- continue to hold interviews, but be aware of applicants’ availability, especially with career changers
- make offers as soon as you can – final year students will appreciate having a confirmed placement as the end of their course approaches
- if you recognise an applicant’s talent and potential through a joint selection process move them across your partners
Easter to the summer break
During this time recruitment can slow down or stop, but for some candidates and subjects it’s just getting started:
- be aware that many applicants are entering the system for the first time and may be selecting you as their first choice
- attend graduate recruitment fairs and tailor your offer to appeal to candidates for STEM subjects who enter the system later in the cycle compared to other subjects
- decide how to work effectively with your ITT provider and schools to share the marketing and recruitment activity
- submit your requests for funded SKE courses
- review your performance in line with the measures of success you set yourself at the start of the year – how will you share your successful activities?
- if you plan to stay open and actively recruit over the summer, consider how to do this
During the summer break
A final push on recruitment through the summer could help you fill your places and secure trainees for September:
- work out what resources you need to stay active in recruiting and interviewing over the summer
- host inductions with your partner ITT provider and schools to keep interested candidates and accepted trainees involved with you
- confirm your prospective trainees have passed their skills tests to make sure they’re ready to start their training with you
- check SKE courses continue to meet your applicants’ needs – get feedback and decide how you can use this next year
You should also be planning your programme and marketing for next year.
Autumn to Christmas
The autumn term is crucial, both in terms of planning and preparation. Applications get off to a strong start once the UCAS teacher training system opens, so:
- define your offer (career packages, financial incentives, range of experience, qualifications, etc)
- make sure everyone at your school and your partner organisations know why an applicant would choose to train with you
- ensure your website and UCAS entry profile promote your offer to applicants
UCAS teacher training system launch:
- remind potential applicants who’ve completed school experience with you or previously expressed an interest in teaching that UCAS teacher training has opened – encourage them to visit and apply to you
- plan how you’ll make offers early to secure your first-choice applicants, for example, a planned induction; a tailored career package; experience in partner school
- attend events – sign up for our Train to Teach events and hold open days to recruit prospective candidates early
- agree in advance exactly what you’re looking for and the levels you expect from the applicant, such as commitment; communication; subject knowledge; and school experience
- decide where you’re willing to add value to applicants who show the most promise and potential so that you don’t lose them, for example subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) or further school experience
- consider where and when you’ll hold interviews with your partner provider – could you vary the school location to cover any rural schools in your partnership?
- schedule your recruitment year before you start interviews – give successful candidates dates of catch-ups or inductions in advance
- discuss subject knowledge and professional skills tests at interview, encourage applicants to take these early and consider how you can support them
Plan your marketing
Research your area. Your knowledge of the size, nature and location of your local area and the way you fit into this should inform your plan. You should also take into account broader teacher recruitment factors. For example, urban areas tend to attract more graduate applicants than rural so you need to base your approach on your area.
You should plan ahead and decide how to promote your places and what deadlines there are. Your marketing plan should include:
- clear objectives
- success measures
- contingency plans, for example:
- changes to staffing
- continuing to recruit through holiday periods to fill places
Use our marketing materials templates. Familiarise yourself with the messages from the NCTL national teacher recruitment campaign, Your Future, Their Future. You can use these messages and a range of campaign materials to support your own local marketing.
This is often the first place candidates will look, so make sure it has all the information about the places you have available, and a named contact and number. Ensure that all your partners also signpost your programme on their websites and vice versa: working together to help fill places. Where possible, establish links with university departments and career services, and keep them updated on how many places you have and when you fill them, so they can keep their own sites up to date.
- your home page should include information that you’re recruiting for ITT
- if you offer SKE to your applicants, say so clearly upfront
- make sure your content is clear, easy to understand and up-to-date
- check that others can easily find your ITT information and your offer is appealing to candidates
- provide at least 1 contact name and details for ITT queries
- provide a direct link to your training places on the UCAS training system to make their journey easier
- include any deadlines, dates or details of events, and how to register to attend
- promote your Twitter and Facebook accounts
- signpost who you’re working with in your partnership (higher education institutions (HEIs) and schools)
- promote that you offer applicants school experience and which SKE subjects to support candidates reach the standard required
- showcase case studies, blogs, podcasts or video clips of past and current trainees to show what your courses and teaching are like
Let candidates know what you can offer them. Be clear about who you are and who is in your partnership.
It’s important to present your offer, and your brand clearly to attract and retain interest. It can be confusing for candidates when they’re looking for training and they come across different information and contacts, who are all working together. Sometimes, school-centred initial teacher training (SCITTS), teaching school alliances and School Direct partnerships often have different titles/names to the school they would be interested in training at. If you have a logo, use it on all your channels, including your website, posters, advertisements, letterhead and email signatures.
Explain to your colleagues the importance of brand. When responding to enquiries, ensure colleagues are well-briefed to answer enquiries from potential candidates and make a note of where people found out about your programme - this can help you to evaluate your marketing activities and plan for next year. Keep in touch with them, reinforcing the benefits of studying with you.
Record details of all enquiries, including where people have found out about your programme. Candidates have a lot to think about, so it’s worth contacting them following enquiries, events or visits. This will reinforce the benefits of studying with you and provide ongoing support with their application. You can also use this information to inform your future marketing activities.
Focus on the unique benefits of training with you:
- the expectation of employment
- finance available (salary, scholarships or bursaries)
- practical, school-based training
- career packages with further training and development and progression opportunities
- quality – let them know if you’re an outstanding school
Let candidates know:
- what they need to do next and by when (advertising deadlines motivates candidates to action)
- who to contact or where to go for more information (your website)
Decide who you want to attract
Of those interested in a teaching career, 55% are final year undergraduates or recent graduates, and 45% are career changers.
Whilst there are differences between the types of audience, there are some common themes in how these candidates feel. There are steps you can take in your promotion of ITT to help reassure, encourage and support them:
|How people may feel||Possible activities|
|Scared of the unknown, worried they wouldn’t be a good teacher and unsure about how to manage pupil behaviour||Events or open days at your school or school cluster are great opportunities for candidates to meet teachers, ask questions and talk to current trainee teachers. If you take part in the school experience programme you could be paid for hosting placements that give candidates the chance to experience life in a school.|
|The easiest thing to do is leave the decision until another day||Follow up leads and keep in touch with candidates. Offer support with their application.|
|Scared about starting all over again both emotionally and financially||Introduce candidates to current teachers who have switched careers; communicate information about fees, bursaries and scholarships; the personal touch is important, build a rapport with candidates and show them the support they will receive to help allay their fears.|
|The application process appears daunting and confusing||Signpost to our Get into Teaching online resources; encourage them to register with us to receive information and support, registration is free with no commitment; produce clear steps to making a successful application; consider co-hosting application workshops with your partners; keep in touch regularly with your interested candidates to uncover concerns and information needed to complete their application and start their training. Signpost to UCAS guidance and support.|
The School Direct training programme (salaried) is mainly aimed at graduates with 3 or more years’ career experience and is an attractive route into teaching for career changers. When planning your marketing, ensure you consider the different needs of this important audience.
Career changers may be:
- looking for a greater sense of fulfilment from a new career
- worrying about the financial cost of training and facing a decreased income throughout their early years of teaching
- juggling other commitments, such as parenting or caring responsibilities
- less likely to have a peer group considering a similar step
- more in need of school experience or subject knowledge enhancement
Your campaign should:
- use messages that emphasise the softer, more altruistic rewards of being a teacher
- focus on career and salary progression rather than starting salaries
- set out the relative merits of bursaries and scholarships against the salary they can earn on the School Direct (salaried) route
- use messages, such as “1 in 3 of our trainee teachers is a career changer like you”, and case studies compare bursaries and scholarships to a post-tax income
- highlight the support you can give them to help them make the move into teaching, including school experience and subject knowledge enhancement courses
To support you in maintaining contact with candidates who attend interviews early in the recruitment cycle we’ve put together some suggestions to support you.
Here are some top tips on how to keep your candidates engaged with you and enthusiastic about their upcoming training.
Make regular contact
Staying in touch with candidates is simple and can have a big impact on them feeling connected to you before they’ve started their course. You could:
- if you’re in a teaching school alliance with specialist leaders of education in ITT, use them to buddy accepted ITT candidates
- ask your relevant head of department or subject lead to be the main contact for your candidate and make them feel like they’re already part of your school
- appoint a mentor or buddy for each candidate to offer tutoring or group support (for example, a newly qualified teacher or recently qualified teacher)
- invest in administrative support to speak to candidates and answer their queries (this person could also be in charge of ensuring the relevant paperwork is completed and the candidate has everything they need to start the course)
- send your staff bulletins and school newsletters to candidates to let them know what’s going on at the school
- invite candidates to school events and meetings (for example, continuing professional development sessions, recruitment events, lesson observations and sports days)
Prepare them for school life
Candidates should have some school experience, but it may not have been within your school, take time to introduce them to your school and their course. You could:
- link them to a host school as soon as possible, even for fee paying candidates, candidates want to be able to identify with a particular school
- invite them to spend time working in their future subject departments, getting to know colleagues, students and the curriculum
- set candidates a series of preparation tasks each month which are linked to the school and their subject area (these can be monitored and used to develop an individual learning plan and gives candidates the feeling that they’re already progressing)
- use vacant teaching assistant positions to employ candidates as a paid incentive to become involved in the school prior to training
- send reading lists and subject specialist information to candidates for them to look at before starting
- ask them to come into school and help with preparing events
Generate a feeling of community
You may want to encourage a feeling of community between candidates by:
- setting up online communities for new candidates through social media so they can get to know each other before meeting face-to-face
- setting up cohort training sessions (for example, to help them pass their skills test)
Other things to consider
Some candidates might be eligible for a scholarship. Make sure they’re aware of the financial incentives available to them and, if appropriate, support them in applying.
Let candidates know what to expect, not only from their training but from a life of teaching. Teaching is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding professions a person can choose.
Marketing and recruitment tools
Recruitment tools available to you
There are a number of funded options available to help you recruit to hard-to-fill shortage subjects. Use these in all your marketing and communications to prospective candidates.
Subject knowledge enhancement (SKE)
An SKE course can bring a potential candidate’s subject knowledge up to the level needed to train to teach in a shortage subject. You can claim SKE funding to support your recruitment.
Almost a third of applicants to ITT courses in shortage subjects need to do some form of SKE before starting their course. Therefore, it can play an important role in supporting your recruitment to these subjects. Find out how you can benefit from SKE.
- promote that you offer SKE on your website, linking to your teacher training pages
- promote any SKE course you offer on the online SKE directory
- ensure your course details are accurate and you explain your programme in detail
- include quotes and success stories from previous SKE trainees when advertising
School experience programme
The school experience programme provides classroom experience to candidates interested in teaching a shortage subject. It gives you the opportunity to meet potential applicants and see if they are a good prospect for your programme. It provides an excellent opportunity to help applicants with limited school experience, such as career changers, meet your application criteria. Promote your school experience programme in your marketing materials.
It also helps the attendee to understand what would be on offer from your programme. Many candidates who go on to make a successful application to ITT stay with the school that ran their school experience programme. Find out more about the school experience programme.
Bursaries and scholarships
Bursaries and scholarships incentivise high-quality candidates to apply for teacher training. Some good candidates can’t afford to do teacher training without this financial support. Make sure your website and communications clearly show the financial support available. Check that your staff understand the different bursaries and scholarships on offer and can help answer any queries. Find out more about the 2016 to 2017 bursaries and scholarships for postgraduate fee-based teacher training.
UCAS teacher training website
Ensure that your profile page on the UCAS teacher training website is up to date. These profiles showcase:
- your organisation
- the training programmes you offer
- course requirements
- school experience requirements
To make your entry profile stand out, you should:
- consider how applicants will search for your organisation. Add the name of your lead school to the name of your partnership to enhance search possibilities
Why train with us:
- highlight your main selling points in the for example:
- whether you offer PGCE, post-ITT training or qualifications such as a Master’s degree
- your School Direct salaried route rates and the fees for fee-based places
- links to your partner schools’ and provider’s websites
- statistics on previous trainees such as employment rates
- link to your website for more information about your programme and case studies
You should clearly set out information candidates need to know, including:
- specific entry requirements (such as the amount of school experience required)
- whether you will accept less than 3 years’ work experience in hard-to-fill subjects
- the number of places you have in each phase and subject
- the specific modern foreign language(s) (MFL) you offer and use the subject classification titles to list these, for example, a modern languages course could have French, German and Spanish – you can use up to 10 classifications for each course
- what aspects and expertise you want for your design and technology places so that candidates understand your requirements to meet the design and technology curriculum
- application deadlines and interview dates
- when and where training will take place, including how many hours trainees will spend in school
Remember to keep your profile up-to-date, including the number of places you have left.
Running regular events provides an opportunity for potential applicants to meet your staff, see the partner schools and ask specific questions about your programme.
To help make your events successful:
- consider co-hosting with schools in your partnership or area so you can share the work and maximise attendance figures
- ask the current students services administrators at your local HEIs if you can hold events at their students’ unions
- have current trainees or teaching staff attend to support trainees in the subjects you’re recruiting to
- host smaller, bespoke events:
- how to complete a good application
- tips on your interview
- the routes into teaching
- the benefits of teaching
- promote your events:
- using email, leaflets, website notices, direct mail, career services, undergraduate faculties’ web pages and press adverts
- using local commercial radio stations, community radio stations, churches, community centres, libraries, and your local authority website
- to school parents and other school and institution building users
- on our Get into Teaching Facebook page – add a post from your own organisation’s Facebook account
- tag @getintoteaching on Twitter and we’ll retweet your event
Tell us about your event and we can publish it on Get into Teaching. Use our what’s on where form to let us know.
As well as running your own events, try to attend our Train to Teach roadshow. These are regional events held throughout the year. Last year they attracted more than 6,000 prospective candidates.
To support your recruitment, use the templates available in the marketing toolkit.
Flyers and posters
Use our flyer and poster templates to promote your marketing activities such as events:
- include details of who to contact, dates and deadlines
- try not to say too much in a small space – direct candidates to your website for further information and ensure your enquiry lines are ready to answer queries
You should display posters and leave flyers:
- at any events you’re attending
- inside or outside your school or institution
- in halls of residence, student union bars and shops and around HEI campuses
- at local job centres, community centres, jobs fairs and libraries
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and other social media sites are a good way of raising the profile of your ITT places. They are low or no cost and can provide interested candidates with a forum to ask questions.
Setting up a social media account with Facebook or Twitter is easy:
- make sure you set up a distinct account for your teacher training
- use an inspiring image for the cover photo and your logo for a profile image
- in your biography or more information section, make it clear who, what and where you are
- link to your website
- agree in advance who has access to the account and ultimate responsibility for posts and responses
Use the Get into Teaching Facebook page or Twitter feed to let people know about any events or news channels. We have a large number of followers from all over the country. Follow or like us to get all the latest messages, news and information for candidates.
Use your partners’ social media channels – post on their walls or tweet them. Ask them to do this for you if you don’t have your own channels.
Posting podcasts and videos of lectures or classrooms gives prospective candidates a good idea about what a postgraduate teacher training course and teaching is really about.
Press adverts and releases
Press adverts are a good way to highlight the benefits of teaching as a profession to a large number of people in the local area. They can be particularly useful when targeting career changers. Exploit the ‘Monday morning feeling’ by placing an advert specifically targeting career changers. They can also encourage attendance at high profile events. Consider advertising in:
- local newspapers
- student newspapers
- undergraduate faculty newsletters (particularly to target STEM and MFL students)
- school newsletters
Generating good local public relations helps reach a large number of potential trainees. We’re working hard to make sure that there are lots of positive stories about ITT nationally. To get coverage in your local press:
- take a look at our Press advert: guidelines for schools to help get your advert into the local press
- think of unique angles for your school or institution – this might include a notice to say:
- your applications have opened
- you’re hosting an event
- you’ve had a large number of applications
- you have a well known person speaking at your event
- if any trainees have become celebrities within the teaching profession
- the local press like stories about people – share case studies or consider a story about your first appointed trainee
- consider having discussions on student radio about the benefits of becoming a teacher
- contact your local authority press team, who often have a relationship with local press, for support on pitching a story to the media
- send your information to local radio stations and newspapers – direct it to the editor that covers education news, the news editor or the news desk (get the email address from their website) and follow up with a phone call to provide further information
Use email and traditional mail to keep in touch with enquirers and applicants. Target specific groups to:
- promote an event and increase attendance
- renew the interest of potential candidates and inform them of upcoming application deadlines
- increase awareness of ITT in your region and your teacher training offer
Work with partner providers to contact prospective candidates from:
- undergraduate faculties (of current undergraduate students)
- careers services’ databases
- previous careers events you’ve attended
Community and local networks
To access details of your local School Direct Network, to find out more and meet other local schools that are participating in ITT, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note this email will change on 1 October 2016 to email@example.com.
Other schools and local authorities
Consider joining up with other School Direct schools, SCITTs and HEIs in your cluster or local area. This lets you share resources and events, and reach a wider range of candidates. You can also promote your training places through other local networks, such as teaching schools.
Liaise with your careers services department in your local authority to advertise your vacancies. You could:
- leave ITT leaflets for their careers fairs
- work in partnership to host careers fairs
- ask them to refer potential candidates to you
- give them candidate fact sheets to issue to potential applicants
- offer a drop-in session at the careers service with current ITT trainees available to answer questions and provide tips on applications and interviews
Use the relationship with your HEI partner or local institution to access undergraduate students and build close links with university careers services. Work closely with the undergraduate faculties to increase awareness of teacher training amongst students in STEM and MFL subjects. Encourage applications to these shortage subjects by:
- distributing literature to promote ITT places at open evenings
- publishing information on their website, with a link to your website
- holding seminars on subject areas where applications are low – ask faculty staff to promote these to students and leave posters and leaflets in the relevant departments
- creating a campaign to enable students to recommend friends they think would make a good teacher – ask the Student’s Union and student press for support
Take advantage of the large network of parents from your own, partner, feeder and neighbouring schools. Use parent evenings, school productions and community events to tell them about ITT places. Schools can write or text parents asking if they know anyone interested in teaching – amend our example letter to parents letter to suit your school.
- Use our marketing toolkit for materials that you can download, adapt, print and use to market your ITT places.
- Read our teacher recruitment bulletin for regular updates.
- Stay up-to-date and share best practice with other schools using the School Direct hub. You’ll need to register on the Knowledge hub to join the School Direct group.
- Take a look at previous online seminars to help you run your School Direct programme.
Published: 30 September 2014
Updated: 16 January 2017
- New information on how to build relationships with ITT applicants and recruits.
- First published.