Making changes to email notifications for candidates

As part of our work to change the applications process for the 2023 to 2024 recruitment cycle, we had to review all the email notifications we send from Apply for teacher training (Apply).

Some of the changes to our emails were released over time in August and September 2023.

The issue

Our team worked with our policy colleagues to change some of the rules when candidates apply for teacher training. These changes included:

  • applications will not be automatically rejected after 40 working days
  • offers will not be automatically declined after 10 working days

Many email notifications sent from Apply mention these rules, so we needed to review them to make sure they are still accurate for candidates. We also reviewed the email notifications we send from Manage teacher training applications (Manage) for training providers.

What we did

We mapped out all our emails by taking screenshots and placing them on an online whiteboard tool (Lucidboard). We grouped them by type and added notes of what needed to change.

We categorised each group by emails that could be:

  • removed
  • disabled (we did not want to remove these emails in case we needed to reinstate them)
  • edited

Out of 79 candidate emails, we were able to remove 32 emails we did not need any more that described the rules we had gotten rid of.

New emails to nudge candidates to respond to offers

We identified areas of where we would need to create new emails.

Previously, when candidates received an offer, it would automatically mark the offer as declined after 10 working days. That has now been replaced by a new policy of no deadline to respond to an offer.

Our data showed that most candidates responded to an offer within 15 working days and only 2.5% of offers were automatically declined in the 2022 to 2023 recruitment cycle. This indicated that candidates respond to offers in good time and this rule is not needed anymore.

We decided to implement a series of emails to nudge candidates to accept their offer in case they did not respond to training providers.

We designed 5 emails, which would be sent 10 days apart. This would allow us to measure how many of these triggered over time and we can either introduce more interventions or reduce the emails we send.

This email has not been implemented yet but will be by the end of 2023.

This is the content on one of these emails:

Hello [first name]

You received an offer for a place on the course, [course name] at [Provider name] 40 days ago.

You should respond to your offer, even if you decline it. This will allow other candidates the chance to apply for a place on the course.

Sign in to your account to respond to your offer.

If you’re not able to start training yet

You can defer your offer and start your course a year later.

Contact [Provider name] to ask if it’s possible to defer, this will not affect your existing offer.

If your training provider agrees, you’ll need to accept the offer first.

Get help

Call 0800 389 2500 or chat online.

Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:30pm (except public holidays).

New email to tell candidates they have an extra course choice

Another rule we changed is that applications will not be automatically rejected after 40 working days. Instead, after 30 working days, candidates can submit another course choice.

This rule would give training providers more time to respond to applications and give good feedback if they want to reject them. But, if a training provider was taking too long to make a decision, the candidate can apply somewhere else while they wait.

In Apply, we have content to tell candidates they have a new course choice. Candidates might not always sign into Apply once they have submitted their applications. An email would help notify them that they can add another course choice.

This email has not been implemented yet but will be by the end of 2023.

This is the content on one of these emails:

Hello [first name]

To give yourself the best chance of success, you can apply to another training provider while you wait for a response to your application for [course name] at [provider name].

Candidates who apply for 4 or more courses are more likely to receive an offer.

Sign into your account to apply to another training provider.

You can also contact [provider name] to check on your application.

Get help

Call 0800 389 2500 or chat online.

Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:30pm (except public holidays).

Further considerations

We need to assess the effectiveness of our new emails once they are implemented.

Our next step is to map out the triggers for our emails so we can get a better understanding of how everything fits together. We think we can do more work to improve our emails even further, so we do not overwhelm candidates.