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How is science taught in UK schools these days?

Discussion in 'Science' started by zleo99, Jul 1, 2012.

  1. I am a (female) professional hydrogeologist (BSc Geology; MSc Hydrogeology) who is thinking about becoming a science teacher the UK. Hydrogeology is basically maths, physics & chemistry applied to water flow and water chemistry in the sub-surface. It is the all-round applied science, and I want to inspire and encourage youngsters (11-16) to study the physical sciences and seriously consider science careers.
    For science at school, I studied O Level physics, chemistry, maths and A Level physics, chemistry, maths. Now I am looking at potential jobs which I could get after training and see far more vacancies for Science teachers, and only 4 each for chemistry and physics teachers. So I am clearly out of date!
    I should therefore be very grateful to receive any information and advice on how science is taught in secondary schools in UK, and tips, encourgaement or otherwise!
    Many thanks and kind regards
  2. MarkS

    MarkS New commenter

    Basically, it depends on the school! Most schools will teach general Science in Key Stage 3, but more (most?) teach to specialism for GCSE. In terms of training to teach, you may follow a course (e.g. PGCE) or work based training programme (e.g. GTP or its successor) which has a title including 'Science' or 'Physics' but ultimately it won't make a huge difference which you follow...you will still get QTS on passing. The main thing is to make sure you meet the requirements to enter training - the content of your degree, maths and English qualifications, and classroom experience will all impact on your perceived suitability to train as a teacher...try to get into some local schools to gain some experience and get a feel for how a modern Science Department works. Good Luck!
  3. steve_cooke

    steve_cooke New commenter

    Independent schools are more likely to offer the three sciences individually from the word go, most state schools will be looking for you to brush up on your Biology, at least for teaching the first three year groups.
    The Institute of Physics has encouraged the development of Physics with Maths PGCEs but there has been discussion on some forums about that split not really matching what state schools are after, working in an independent it is very much what we are after. But our last two recruitments in Physics have come from GTTPs (older graduates getting thrown in the deep end) rather than PGCEs.
    The IoP also maintains a database of schools who are very happy to have people who are considering switching to teaching come in and observe, so maybe you should contact them through their website and see if there are schools on that list nearby.
  4. Hi zleo99,

    It really does depend on the school. I have been in places where they teach all 3 sciences up to y9, then the students have a choice at y10 and y11 to do core science (all 3), BTEC (2 qualifications equivilent to GCSE) and triple (they pick 2/3 GCSEs or do all 3 in separate sciences)

    My current one teaches a broad KS3 curriculum up to y9, then does AQA syllabus in core, additional and triple science AND offers BTEC to lower ability students. Most of the time the content is wide and varied with lots of practicals and demonstrations, and the oppurtunity for research projects and for the students to get creative. But it really does vary school to school and I would recommend going into a few schools to see what they offer.

  5. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    We all come into teaching wanting to do that.

    Be warned that, unless you want to teach in the Independent sector or a grammar school, what you'll be doing most of the time is trying to keep a lid on the behaviour of a load of 12-15 year olds who'd rather be almost anywhere else than in your lesson.

    Go and spend some time in a local comprehensive school - you need to be there at least a week, though it doesn't have to be a week in a block, no reason why it can't be a day here and a day there - before deciding what to do.

    (And don't take the adverts promising those £35K salaries too seriously either - there's no shortage of teachers except in the sorts of schools no one wants to teach in and the starting pay is just over £20K - it will take you 6 years (after your training year) to get into the 30s.)

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