Recruiting physics teachers – advice for schools
We’ve put together some tips and guidelines to help schools market themselves and recruit physics teachers.
- The shortage of physics teachers means there are large financial incentives on offer to draw prospective teachers into the classroom. It’s crucial to highlight in your marketing materials that applicants could be entitled to a government bursary, an IOP scholarship and a loan to help towards tuition fees.
- Think about your school’s benefits and achievements and consider what would make a candidate choose to train to teach physics at your school compared to another. Establish your unique selling points and put these on your website and in your marketing so prospective teachers can see why they should choose to train with you.
- Your website is one of the main places prospective applicants will look for information about your school. Make sure your contact details, event information and performance data are up to date.
- Use social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as a cost-effective way of communicating and engaging with prospective teachers.
- Hosting events at your school and within your community is one of the best ways to showcase your school and facilities. Hold an open day and run demonstrations in your physics department to provide an insight into life in the classroom.
- Invite your local press to your open days.
- Respond to enquiries from prospective applicants as quickly as possible. Leaving someone waiting for a reply from you can give the impression that you’re not very well organised or that you are not really interested in their enquiry.
- Once you have established a dialogue with a prospect, keep in touch. Find out how they are progressing with their application, ask them if they need any advice about funding or invite them to your school for observational experience.
- Appearing to go out of your way to help a prospective applicant will make them warm to you and more likely to submit an application.
Selecting and interviewing prospective teachers
- When interviewing prospective teachers, bear in mind that you are not recruiting people who already have the ability to teach a physics lesson from day one. Look at the potential of your candidates and consider whether or not they have the ability to become inspirational physics teachers once they’ve completed their training. Don’t turn them away on the basis that they are not ready to teach physics to a class of 30 on their very first day.
- If you discover upon interview that a candidate is not suitable for your physics School Direct programme but you think they have potential to become a good teacher, encourage them to apply for the PGCE teacher training route or a Subject Knowledge Enhancement course.
- To ensure the supply of physics teachers in England, it’s important to nurture every candidate’s interest in teaching physics and point them in the right direction so that they receive the most suitable training.
If you work within a consortium it’s crucial that all partner schools work together to share knowledge and information about physics teacher training. This will greatly enhance your recruitment potential.
Read on for some more advice about other important partnerships you should build. And, if you are the lead school in your partnership, please share these marketing information webpages with your partner schools.
Your higher education institution partner
- Maintain a close relationship with your higher education institution (HEI) partner because they’re your key link to university physics, engineering and maths students. Ask your HEI provider to display your publicity material within their physics, engineering and maths departments, and ask them to inform students about any open days or recruitment events you host.
- You may also be able to arrange to give a presentation to the university’s undergraduate students about a career in teaching physics.
Holding an open day or taster session at your school is a great way to boost your application numbers.
Open days give you the chance to meet prospective applicants and showcase your school before trainees apply.
Here are eight tips to help you organise a successful event
- Have regular events. Consider hosting several events throughout the year – once a month if possible.
- Set a day and time. Avoid holiday dates for your local university. Think about your target audience when organising the timing of each event. Bear in mind that career changers won’t be as flexible as students and recent graduates.
- Invite speakers. Having a trainee or NQT is a really powerful way to engage the audience. They can share their experience of training first hand.
- Advertise the event. This is important to gain a good attendance rate. Ideas for how to do this can be found below.
- Set up event registration. This can be as simple as asking attendees to email you to confirm their attendance. This way you can send reminder emails one week and one day before the event.
- Send out the programme. Share the session schedule prior to the event.
- Make attendees feel welcome. Welcome attendees on the day and introduce them to one another.
- Follow-up. By registering attendees you’ll be able to keep in touch with your prospective trainee teachers. You could also offer a post-event experience day to bring prospective applicants back to your school for a tour and observational classroom experience.
Promoting your recruitment event
- Here are some suggestions for where to advertise your event. You might want to familiarise yourself with the basic marketing steps outlined above:
- on your website
- in local press
- posters in local businesses, community centres, doctors’ surgeries, dentists
- local community websites and forums
- inform the careers department in your local university
- social media channels
- local radio
- ask the Department for Education to advertise the event on their website and promote it via their Twitter feed (@getintoteaching).
Highlight the benefits of your event
- Can you offer observational school experience?
- Will you share application and interview advice?
- Inform attendees about the funding available, both government bursaries and scholarships.
- Is there going to be opportunity to network with past and present trainees?
Suggested event format
- Running time: 10am – 3pm/3.30pm with lunch provided
- Tea and coffee on arrival.
- Welcome and ice breaker session.
You want to make attendees feel comfortable and able to talk to one another. Ask basic questions such as what do you want to teach, why do you want to teach, what are your expectations of teaching?
Give an overview of the training programme at your school. Include fees and funding available, how to apply, tips for the interview and how to gain experience.
Invite a current trainee and/or NQT to talk about their experience.
If possible hold this in a different room so people get a change of scenery and get to see a different part of your school and move around a bit. It can be tiring sitting in one room all day. Invite current teachers to join for lunch and talk to attendees about the school.
- Run an interactive activity.
People are sluggish after lunch. An appealing activity could be anything from a taster training session to a discussion about expectations of teacher training such as highlights/lowlights etc. Offer application advice and tips.
Give a brief overview of policy in your school, perhaps special educational needs, pastoral care, safeguarding, career progression opportunities etc.
- Q&A session
This is a good opportunity to discuss follow up emails or events that attendees should be aware of.
Make sure to follow up with your attendees. This will increase their engagement with, and interest in, the school:
- collect contact details on a sign-up sheet at the event so you can keep in touch with your attendees
- keep your potential recruits engaged by offering them observational experience, open days and giving advice on how to gain a training place
- offer them school experience separately to the event.
If you have any questions or need further support with marketing and recruitment, please do not hesitate to get in touch by sending a email to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 020 7470 4882.