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Recruiting physics teacher training students – advice for universities

We’ve put together some tips and guidelines for university initial teacher education (ITE) providers to help with course marketing and recruitment of physics teacher training students.


Marketing materials

Use the summer to review, refresh and update your course marketing materials – both printed and online – ready to relaunch in September:

  • It’s vital to ensure your content is up to date. Basic errors such as incorrect or out-of-date contact details, or last year’s fees and funding information, can have a significant impact on the interest you receive. 
  • Use every opportunity to invite prospects to easily contact you. Clearly display email, phone and web contact details and include a strong, prominent call to action in all content, such as: “If you have any questions, get in touch with us at ...” or “We’d be happy to discuss your future as a teacher, so drop us a line at ...”
  • Obtain testimonials from your current and previous students. Positive reviews of your course from alumni now in good teaching positions will give credibility to your course and allow you to showcase your success. Testimonials can be simple text and photograph format for your printed materials or short video clip format for your website.
  • Make sure your imagery is eye-catching, modern and up to date. Use images that reflect life as a PGCE student at your institution rather than generic images that show a physicist in a lab. Show groups of students working together and having fun. 
  • Consider creating a short video about your course as it’s a great way for prospective students to get an idea of what to expect.

UCAS teacher training profile

Many prospective students will get their first impression of your ITE centre by visiting your profile on the UCAS teacher training website. Your profile is a vital aspect of your marketing.

  • Supply clear information for every available field but keep it concise and to the point. You want to encourage applicants to visit your own website for more information once they’ve read your UCAS profile.
  • Highlight what’s unique about your university and your course. Why should someone train with you rather than another provider?
Group of adults doing a physics experiment

Make use of social media

Social media can drive traffic to your website and generate interest in your course. Use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to have discussions, provide advice and encourage prospects to ask questions.

Your institution’s marketing or communications department can advise on social media best practice but we can also offer advice. Please email us at teach@iop.org.


Partnerships

Promote your course by making the most of the partnerships available to you.

Your university marketing department

Your institution’s marketing department will probably take the lead on advertising your courses. At the same time, this department will be marketing numerous courses.

It’s therefore important to meet with them to review the recruitment process, applications and the success (or not) of particular marketing activities. Highlight the challenges of recruiting student physics teachers and ask for their support. 

Other teaching departments

Other departments within your university have the potential to supply course applicants.

Physics departments are the most obvious but don’t overlook engineering or other physics-rich courses, especially if your institution doesn’t have a physics department.

Also look at postgraduate courses and PhD students and consider part-time and evening course students.

Careers department

Organise a meeting with your university’s central careers department or dedicated careers contact in the physics or engineering department. Explain the importance of recruiting students into physics teacher training and the financial incentives on offer to trainees. Ask them to share information about your course and training bursaries to physics, engineering and maths students.

Work with student societies

Get to know the engineering or physics student societies within your institution. Run teacher training bite-size sessions for them on-campus, or organise volunteering session in a local school. Giving undergraduates the opportunity to work in a school environment early on, and showing them how fun it can be to work with young people, might ignite a passion for teaching.

Undergraduate teaching modules

Many undergraduate physics courses include a science communication and teaching module. If this is true in your institution, contact the tutor running the module to make sure you’re making the most of this opportunity to get students thinking about ITE.

If your institution does not run modules like this, it may still be worth approaching undergraduate physics and engineering tutors to discuss ways to incorporate some teaching experience.


Prospective applicants

Respond to enquiries from prospective applicants as quickly as possible. Not replying to an enquiry for several days can give the impression your institution is not very well organised, or that you are not really interested in their enquiry.

Keep in touch with them. Find out how they’re progressing with their application, ask them if they need any advice about funding or see if you can help to arrange school experience.


Recruitment events

Holding an open day for your training course is a great way to boost application numbers.

Few undergraduates know exactly what they want to do career-wise, even in their final year. Physics graduates are highly sought-after: recruiters from the corporate sector leap at the opportunity to meet them. This makes it easy for students to overlook teaching as an alternative, yet equally exciting and fulfilling, career option. Engineers have a similar skill set as physicists and they too are bombarded with the same sorts of companies offering various career opportunities.

If your institution doesn’t have a physics or engineering department investigate your neighbouring universities. Some don’t have education departments so working together can be a win-win scenario for both.

Attending recruitment events and career fairs

If you are planning to attend a DfE Train to teach event, email any interested candidates and invite them along. It’s a good idea to bring a sign-up form to collect prospective teacher’s data so you can invite them to future recruitment events.

Attending career fairs is a useful way to meet recent graduates and final year students. Use prospects.ac.uk to find out where these events are taking place.

If there’s anything we can do to help with your event, please get in touch by emailing teach@iop.org.


IOP support

If you have any questions or need further support with marketing and recruitment, please do not hesitate to get in touch by sending an email to teach@iop.org or calling 020 7470 4882.