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Teacher recruitment campaign gets animated to boost interest

Wannabe teachers can get a “taster” of the job through an “innovative” classroom-based simulation tool that the government hopes will boost recruitment.

The Department for Education has awarded a £15,000 year-long contract to Teacher Success Platform, a University of York spin-out company, to provide “access to realistic job preview tools”.

The animated videos present a series of “realistic” classroom scenarios to prospective trainees, who can watch a classroom situation unfold before a teaching dilemma is presented in which they must react to.

Examples include a pupil using their phone in class, a student acting up in a way that is unusual for them and how to “deal with tricky parents”.

The user gets feedback on their responses and a message about whether their decisions indicate they are a good fit for teaching.

The contract was awarded after a nine-month pilot of the software last year, in which 900 aspiring trainee teachers took part.

Rob Klassen, the firm’s founder and director, and a professor of Education at University of Oxford, said: “We think it’s innovative and probably unique to the DfE in using this for recruitment.

“They’re looking for solutions to a real problem. And we think that this is one of the myriad of kind-of-useful directions to go in.”

Links via email were sent to those applying for and gaining acceptance into initial teacher training programmes, and those reapplying after being rejected.

Hopes people will see teaching ‘right for them’

Klassen hopes using the tool will help win over people who are unsure teaching “is right for them” by showing them what the job entails and that they can do it. He also hopes it makes the teacher recruitment process more “informative, interactive, engaging”.

“We also know that a lot of people aren’t going to be able to go try teaching in a taster session because it’s really hard to scale up to large numbers,” he added. “This is a way of making something that’s pretty engaging and interactive, and also pretty scalable.”

Those engaging are more likely to follow through with their application and not drop out during what can be a “lengthy wait before training actually begins”, he said.

The tool is based on responses from hundreds of teachers collected from 2015 to 2021, funded via a European Research Council grant. The teachers helped generate “accurate and realistic and believable” scenarios, and the “most appropriate responses”.

A survey of those who took part in the trial found four in five agreed they were more interested in exploring teaching as a career. This is based on about 900 responses.

A University of York study, running until 2025, aims to test how “online ‘persuasive games’ and online ‘realistic job previews’” can boost teacher recruitment.

The DfE was approached for comment.

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