In the first instance, it is often the marketing department which takes on the role of advertising your courses.
At the same time, this department is often faced with the marketing and recruitment challenges of numerous courses, sometimes extending to the whole institution.
With a variety of targets, priorities and goals to contend with, unfortunately physics may get lost in the mire of other subjects and not receive the priority it needs.
Therefore it is important that ITE tutors meet with the marketing department to highlight how essential it is to prioritise physics and increase awareness of the challenges of recruiting student physics teachers.
Simply by arranging regular meetings to discuss recruitment progress, applications and the success (or not) of particular marketing activities will help to keep physics fresh in the minds of the marketing team and could make a big difference in terms of getting your needs met.
Other teaching departments
Ensure that you are well-linked with other departments that have a potential supply of course applicants.
Physics departments are the most obvious but don’t overlook the engineering or other physics-rich courses as a source especially if your institution does not have a physics department.
Don’t forget to look at the postgraduate courses and PhD students and also bear in mind part-time and evening course students.
Arranging talks to students has proved very effective and we recommend making sure ITE course information is available within all the departments you are dealing with.
Also, make sure the departmental staff have your contact details so they can direct any prospective teachers your way.
Brief the Careers Department
Over the course of the Mitre project, it has become clear that, in some universities, careers departments and education departments lead very separate existences. In some cases, careers officers know little about the plight of physics teacher recruitment.
This is especially frustrating if the university has both a physics department and also runs a physics PGCE!
Most institutions do have a pool of potential trainee physics teachers so consider which other science and engineering courses produce graduates who could potentially become teachers. Setting aside some time to brief the careers people on the challenges you face is a really worthwhile and effective exercise.
Provide them with information on the ITE courses available, entry requirements and the types of people you’re looking for and make sure they have you as a personal contact in their department and you have a personal contact in theirs.
Make friends in the press office
Your university press office will always be looking for interesting and newsworthy stories that can be made into news articles. You may not realise that ITE can be newsworthy, but you would be surprised in what can become a good story.
Examples might be:
- a career changer success story
- graduates of the ITE centres who are achieving great results
- interesting or unusual trips as part of your course.
Stories like these can be made into articles that the university can use in its own publications and the press office may decide to pitch them to the local and national press. It may take a little digging to find things that both you and the press office agree are newsworthy, but it is worth investing in this relationship so that over time you develop a sense of what you should pitch to them. This is a classic case of free publicity, so have a think about some of your past course participants and what they are doing now.
Student Associates Scheme (SAS)
If your university offers students a SAS scheme, try to build links with the programme co-ordinators to promote the PGCE course to participants and future participants.
Not all the students will be on the scheme for purely mercenary purposes and some may be discovering a hidden calling which can be nurtured towards applying for PGCE later on. Forging early links with these students can reap rewards later.
Use student services and student activities
Your student services department is a perfect channel to promote activities and raise awareness to existing students about your course.
Why not arrange an interview with student radio about the benefits of physics teaching or ask your student news team to promote any events or open days that you have planned? Do some investigation into what activities they do and can do for you.
Undergraduate teaching modules
More and more undergraduate physics courses include a science communication and teaching module. If this is true in your institution, get in touch with the tutor running the module to make sure that you’re making the most of this opportunity to get students thinking about ITE.
If not, it may still be worth discussing ways to incorporate some teaching experience into courses with the relevant undergraduate tutors.