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Teacher Shortage - Secondary Science

Discussion in 'Science' started by Thirtysomething, Apr 28, 2006.

  1. A bit off thread, but I´d like to repsond to some of the attitude shown by physicsgeek much earlier in this thread.
    On my PGCE, you could spot the physics trainees a mile off as having an aloof and disinterested attitude, and openly rejecting the idea a teaching anything other than their specialism. On teaching practice, I saw and heard another examples of physics trainees hashing together a lesson based largely on direct dictation and board work, which kind of took the **** when you had got through on 2 hours sleep to have the best lessons you could come up with (despite being shattered) prepared in the agonisingly (and yes, unnecessary) level of detail on typed timed lesson plans.
    Yes, physics is immensely valuable, I wish I had been taught it more thoroughly at school, as I am now self teaching it with a view do doing A-level or being able to deal with A- level should I be needed to.
    Our biology group were interested, animated, and knew they only had one area of specialism and so lapped up the crossover courses on the PGCE.
    The physicists were known for not giving a damn.
    Ok, only one sample group, but this was the case.

    For a bit of background, I´m a biochemist who specialised in Biology. No, I´m not anti-non-biologist, I just dislike rejection of an area of science because someone feels sufficiently job secure to not give a damn about being able to communicate it.

    Should biology be removed as a shortage subject? Possibly. Should physicists and chemists have to show more knowledge of biology? Definitely.
    Should the converse be true of biologists? Of course.

  2. kevgeall

    kevgeall New commenter

    With the new GCSEs I don't think Pysicists will be in so much demand.

    I have to agree with previous posters that it is the quality of teaching that counts more than the specialism. I didn't even interview a Physicist for a recent job (we were after biol or phys as we have loads of chemists) as their application was poorer than many of the others.

    The new core GCSE (21st C is the spec I know most about) doesn't contain any "hard" physics such as motion or electrcity and energy, its just space, rocks, waves and radioactivity; topics that anyone should be able to teach and chemists should be able to teach extremely well. Of more challenge will be the change in style many teachers will have to undergo to deliver the how science works element.

    Next year we will have one part time Physics specialist (0.6) and that will be plenty to cover the kids doing separate physics and the physics element of the academic additional GCSE.

    I wouldn't encourage anyone to think they're irreplaceable.....

  3. thers a electricicty anf forces topic on the 21st century, just no energy! The general course still requires physicists and there are the A-levels to think about. If you had 2 canditates of the same quality 1 bio and one physicists who would you hire?
  4. I have to say I take exception to the way in which Physics teachers are portrayed here as being aloof. I enjoyed biology and chemistry in school and would willingly teach either if the opportunity presented itself. Also I would relish the opportunity to teach maths and my degree also enables me to teach geology and Techonology and Design if necessary. So I think I have plenty of cross-over but as a physics specialist there is no way my school will let me teach anything else but Physics.

    As for 21st Century Science it seems very worrying in content. As if you consider that the UK wants a knowledge and science based economy most of that economy will come from a healthy physics, maths, chemistry and to a lesser extent biology base. As it is these subjects that are the wealth creators in society, without a strong knowledge of these we may as well give up now and let China or India take the lead.

  5. Plus by supply and demand there is a lack of qualified Physics teachers. Engineering (Degree level not the man that fixes your car) is also listed by the government as a skills shortage, Physics is an essential component of engineering and indeed medicine therefore it is extremely valuable to society as a whole. As without well qualified and able teachers of Physics our society will start to go down the toilet, a bit like Ancient Rome.

    Therefore I also say let the market do its job and let schools offer what they need in order to attract and retain Physics teachers.
  6. I enjoy teaching chem and bio, and I've even taught ICT, but these days I do physics 95% of the time and I do miss being a "scientist" sometimes. As for the 21st century is scary! The applied course does not lead to A-level physics. The IOP and EES are worried tto.
  7. Fair play, I wasn´t trying to be rude to either physicsgeek or energyboy, I just wanted to emphasis the problems created by what i think is the over separation of science subjects, and lack of opportunity to attend other areas´ refresher courses on the PGCE.
    Anyone know of any good and easily understood websites for A-level content physics?
  8. kevgeall

    kevgeall New commenter

    The 21st century science suite is just that: a suite of qualifications.

    The applied GCSE doesn't support further study at A level (traditional ones anyway) and doesn't require a Physics teacher (in my humble opinion). The three modules needn't contain a physics one at all (though I think they should).

    The additional GCSE physics elements would be best delivered by a Physics specialist. This GCSE is for those wanting to go on to do further study- likely to be a small proportion of your cohort, thus the reduced need for specialists.

    The Core GCSE is about scientific literacy and doesn't require specialists to teach it either (also in my humble opinion).

    The separate sciences obviously require specialists, though P7 is entirely astronomy, so any biol or chem teachers with a hobby could be laughing.....

    Overall, the net effect is a reduction in the need for specialists. One might even argue that the core is best taught by generalists.

    I feel the days of just teaching to your specialism at KS4 are on the way out and the ability to teach at least one other science subject has gone from being preferable to being pretty much required.

    Just my thoughts, its the way it works in my department. We're a very happy, sharing department.

    Specs other than 21st C may well be different, haven't looked at them for some time and won't be looking at them again anytime soon.

  9. Glad I got out of the teaching game at PGCE. I didn't so much mind biology but loathed chemistry.
  10. I think this "shortage" of secondary science teachers is a bit of a myth. I was turned down for a PGCE place because (they said) I hadn't done sufficient observation. BUT: I have a PhD in chemistry, and have taught IB physics for a year in a 6th form college. My interview was a joke. If there truly is a shortage of science teachers, I am sure that they'd have made me an offer conditional on doing X weeks of observation. I think that they simply didn't like me. There are still vacancies on the course at the Uni I applied to. So they can't be that desperate to recruit (mature) scientists into teaching if they could be choosy enough to reject me.
  11. I'm a PGCE Chemist and cannot get an interview in a state school, I have MASSES of teaching experience, and a chem HND and degree, but no interviews! I evenb have experience of teaching physics at GCSE! What more do schools want from student science teachers?
  12. Blood?
    The ability to jump through flaming hoops? ;o)
  13. My plenary for my interview lesson where I got a job was to back flip through 2 flaming hoops while expressing Group 1 and 2 properties through the medium of dance.
    Worked for me :-D
  14. CityGirl, don't mow me down for this but I remember overhearing conversations at Uni whilst they were conducting interviews at my Uni for PGCE.

    Apart from quals and subject knowledge, they wanted to know.

    1) Could they see this person in front of a class

    2) Did the the person display any arrogance.

    My ITT provider loathed arrogance in a candidate.

    I am not saying you are arrogant. But they do look for other things.
  15. I'm not going to mow you down! :eek:) I'm quite sweet once you get to know me.

    I hope that enthusiasm for the subject, and a desire to teach and inspire a class-full of kids would count.

    I'm not arrogant (I hope!). I am full of self-doubt: should I really even consider a change of direction in my mid-40s? Would I be doing the right thing? Do I really have something to offer? I would just like the opportunity to find out.

    To be honest, I was rejected this year for lack of classroom observation/experience. I didn't really get the chance to demonstrate my suitability (or not!) to teach. I wasn't even asked to prepare a presentation. I will reapply for 2007 and, thanks to some people on these forums, I feel that I'll be much better prepared.
  16. As a physicist and science advisor I can say at least in my county physics recruitment is a nightmare.

    In our schools we average lesson than one physics specialist per school, a 1/3 of our schools have a sixth form.

    The 2004-2014 innovations document has a target for 25% of science teachers to have a physics specialism by 2014
  17. One point about biochemists........

    Many courses used to have you doing two years of chemistry and two years of biology along side your biochemistry studies.

    Not sure if this still happens seeing as everything is modularised now.......
  18. Kelper06 - can you say which county or regional area this is?
  19. I say go for it definitely! Yes, there is bullying in some schools but this is the case in all places of work. There IS a shortage - I am a chemist and I got a job for Sept in January! The job is so rewarding and I can't imagine doing anything else. I turned down a £10K more job at GSK to do this and I have no regrets

    Good luck
  20. Geographically isolated, economically deprived you'll find the same trend in almost all authorities like ours and in many deprived city ones too

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