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Physics teacher in need of career advice

Discussion in 'Science' started by Littleford99, Jun 12, 2011.

  1. Dear All,

    I posted this under a another forum catergory, but I thought it would be a good idea to get your opinions as you probably know the recruitment situation more than anybody.
    I was wondering whether you could give me some advice. Currently I am teaching physics at an international school and I now have about 8 years experience under my belt, with a good record in examination results. I would like to return to the UK to teach and I am not sure what my options are as I have never gained QTS. I think my options are as follows:

    • Option 1: Find a school that will be willing to employ me as an unqualified physics teachers and allow me to gain QTS through the “assessment only” route. I was thinking of approaching schools who currently have physics vacancies.
    • Option 2: Find a school that is willing to offer me a GTP place and gain QTS this way.
    The problem with the option 1 is that I don’t know if it is actually possible. With option 2 I am worried that once my one year contract has finished it may be hard to find a full time teaching position.

    I am getting a little worried about the teaching employment market, all I tend to hear from the UK is that it is very hard to secure full time teaching positions. This worries me somewhat as I do not want to make the jump and find out that my career prospects are limited. I am also in my early 40s, so I am no spring chicken although I have plenty of energy!

    I have heard that physics is a shortage subject, and it is now also part of the EBac so maybe there will be an increase in demand. It would be great if anybody has any access to facts and figures in terms of these supposed shortages. The big question is: Do I make the jump? Is it likely that I will gain employment, either as an unqualified teacher or after completing a GTP.
    Thanks for all your help
  2. Roboteer

    Roboteer New commenter

    I'm afraid I don't know the statistics etc, but my general knowledge of teaching posts in Science has been that physicists are extremely sought after and the most frequently advertised subject specialism. Jobs are thinner on the ground with more competition now but there still seems to be a massive shortage in that subject.
    I would have thought that a school would be happy to employ you unqualified if you can provide good references and evidence of your background in teaching abroad.
    There used to be a scheme to train overseas trained teachers to convert them to QTS status in the UK while they worked. I had a colleague who did it 6 years ago. Perhaps contact the TDA to see if this is still possible and then you could approach schools with the "solution" already mapped out.
  3. Dear Roboteer,
    Thanks for the feedback, it is very much appreciated. It is very hard to gauge how big the shortage actually is, but there does seems to be a lack of physics specialists whose first degree is in physics. I like your idea about contacting the TDA, hopefully there will be some way to gain QTS while working.

    Thanks again
  4. I would be wary of going down the assessment only route as teaching in the UL may present you with challenges that you may need the support of a training provider, mentor etc to overcome. For example you may find the students less motivated in the UK than in your international school or the behaviour worse. You would probably be better off looking for a GTP where you would still get training, you can complete GTP in less than 3 terms if you have a lot of experience.
    There is a shortage of physics teachers, we had 2 apply for a science post recently where the total number of applicants was 54. That said not all vacancies will be advertised as physics as schools are wary of getting no applications so are more likely to advertise for a science teacher. That said they would be very happy to snap up a physics teacher in such a situation.
  5. Dear Kritur,
    Thanks for the advice and info, it is very much appreciated. I am quite shocked that there were 54 applicants for one science position, that puts things in perspective! Out of interest, what is the normal ratio between applicants/vacancies, 54:1 seems very high. I guess it reflects the current employment situation. Although it is a little reasurring that only two physics teachers applied for the position.The GTP route does sound good but I was wondering whether I am too old for it, I would also have to take a hefty pay cut. Once qualified, do you think it would be possible to start on say M3 or M4?
  6. A word of warning, which you may already know about.
    I taught physics (to A level for over 35 y) in UK comprehensive schools, being HoD for 30y. I took early retirement, then taught in Spain for 6 months.
    On my return, a physics teacher at my old school took ill and I offered to step in to take his classes. My old school was pleased with this solution and my local authority was pleased to have my support BUT required a CRB (£36) AND a Certificate of Good Conduct from the Spanish Police, as I had "unfettered access to young people". To acquire that would have cost me £128 from FCO (plus various paperwork) followed by a 3month wait for the Spaniards to complete their side of the paperwork, followed by me paying for a Certified Translation (£80?). By then my CRB would have expired, so that would have to be re-issued. Until then, I couldn't work in school.
    I told them to stuff it and managed to get my £36 cheque returned.
    Look carefully at your own situation and start the processes early! Good luck.
  7. Dear physics_suits_you,
    Thanks for the heads up. I would imagine it would be best to get the certificate of good conduct from the authorities while I am still in the country and then get a certified translation.
  8. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    I'd say try and get on a PGCE if you can rather than a GTP. That way if you decide teaching in the UK isn't for you and you want to go overseas again you've got a qualification that will be recognised outside of this country.
  9. briggs1209

    briggs1209 New commenter

    How about a third option.

    Use an international PGCE programme to get qualified while abroad and then return to the UK to complete your probationary year.

    I teach overseas and have just mentored someone through the University of Sunderland PGCE course. Plenty of paperwork as you would imagine and lots of essays and observed lessons. Not a bad course though and certainly well organised and demanding.

    If you went down this route you could return to the UK with a PGCE which would give you more scope to find a suitable position.

    As a separate question, do you need to be qualified with a PGCE to teach in an academy ?
  10. You are not too old for any teacher training route, in GTP you are rather thrown in the deep end as opposed to being guided through with university lectures etc. I am in the NW which has lots of training providers and it was a general science vacancy, hence the number of applicants I think. There are 4 university PGCE training institutions and 4 GTP training institutions commutable to my school so there tends to be quite a lot of competition around here.
    The pay cut for GTP you just have to take really, I was the same when I did it. You may be in a position to negotiate salary but schools are facing lots of cuts so be wary of asking too much. I got M3 but that was 2005/6 when schools weren't in the circumstances they're in now.
  11. Just be careful - the job situation even for Physics - the NW is dire this year. One place I heard of (no names etc) told the successful candidate she had done emarkably well as there were 700 applicants....
    Two years ago Physics jobs attracted maybe 3 or 4...then it went to 20...now 40 is normal and each vacancy I hear of the figures goes up. There are too many ITTs and GTPs in the NW - look in south England.
  12. we only got 5 applicants, 1 of which was reasonable for our last physics post. I think it will depend where in the country you are looking. If you are worried about QTS what about teaching in a private school - you can often do GTPs and the pay while you do it will probably be better.
  13. Dear alexrobson,
    Could you let me know where you are based? I assume it is in the SE. If I can find out which geographical locations have the least number of applicants, I will probably target those areas.
  14. Deat SJOBarry,
    Thanks for the info. Are the number of applicants you are talking about all physics specialists? A ratio of 40:1is not encouraging!

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