The Department for Education (DfE) has been cleared of allegations that its £3 million recruitment advert was misleading for claiming teachers could earn up to £65,000, Schools Week can reveal.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) launched an investigation in November into the department’s “Get into teaching” advert after nearly 100 complaints.
The complainants said the advert was deliberately misleading because only a small proportion of teachers actually earned that rate.
The DfE later released official figures showing 485 classroom teachers earned more than £65,000. Schools Week understands the ASA has ruled in favour of the DfE and is due to publish its investigation findings next week.
Complainants were informed of the outcome last month. The ASA said it would not comment until the official ruling was published. The advert first aired in October and featured during prime time programming.
The first complaint about the ad was submitted to the ASA just a day after its launch.
At the time, complainant Martin Powell-Davies, an executive member of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said the DfE had spent “millions of pounds on an advert which is clearly deliberately misleading, because the proportion of teachers who actually earn £65,000 a year is absolutely minuscule”.
The number of complaints rose to nearly 100 within a month and the ASA launched a formal investigation.
The advertising watchdog said it only launches investigations after complaints have been assessed carefully to establish whether there are ground for further action. The onus is placed on the advertiser to prove its claims.
In December, the DfE responded to a Freedom of Information request that found 485 classroom teachers earned more than £65k a year, as of November last year – equivalent to just 0.1 per cent of the teaching workforce.
Looking at teachers more broadly – including senior leaders and heads – more than 12,800 school staff earned more than £65,000.
The department was also forced to defend the advert – which used real teachers and pupils – because it did not include any staff members from special schools, despite vacancy rates being almost twice as high as in mainstream education.
Simon Knight, deputy headteacher at Frank Wise School in Oxfordshire, said the continuing absence of special schools in teaching recruitment materials was hugely problematic.
A DfE spokesperson said: “We are pleased the ASA has dismissed the complaint that our efforts to recruit more excellent teachers were misleading. Far from being inaccurate, the ASA has ruled that is right to say teachers can earn up to £65,000 – as many outstanding individuals do.
“Rather than repeatedly talking down the profession and complaining about initiatives to bring in more top graduates, the NUT should instead be working with us to promote the hugely rewarding career of teaching.”