Warning sounded over black hole in UK physics teaching
Boffin targets to be missed
One in four state secondary schools do not employ a specialist physics teacher, according to research out today.
The picture, based on a survey of school recruiters, trainees and colleges, varies around the English regions. The situation is bleakest for physics in inner London, where half of the schools don't have a specialist brain in the staff room.
New rules from September this year mean pupils who score well enough in key stage three science SATs must be offered the choice to take a standalone physics GCSE.
Yet during 2005/06, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 26 per cent more specialist physics teachers retired or quit than came into the profession. The figures are muddied by the fact that teacher training colleges can bag a £1,000 premium by listing general science trainees as "specialists".
One set of data from training colleges shows physics specialist applications down 27 per cent this year, however.
The University of Buckingham researchers behind the report argue that the drop-off may be a sign of new tuition fees levied against trainees in 2006 beginning to bite.
One comprehensive school told the researchers: "Retention is vital. We have not been able to recruit a 'true' physicist for five years. Adverts have on occasion produced a nil response and other attempts produced no viable candidates."
The authors conclude that the government will likely fail to meet its 2014 target of one quarter of school science teachers being physics specialists. In 1983 physics specialists accounted for 30 per cent of trainee science teachers. Last year they were down to 13 per cent.
The full physics teaching doom rundown is here (pdf). ®
rambling post ahoy
I started a PGCE course after graduating with a physics degree with my head full of noble notions of inspiring a generation of future scientists and engaging young minds.
However i quit the course due to an increasing number of things that were beginning to annoy me:
1) Kids don't care at all, the education system has created a generation who need to be spoonfed answers, rather than developing the skills required to work out/research the answers.
2)The course required writing masters level essays (which i had never done in my degree.) on educational psychology(such as the work by Piaget and Vygotsky) which is wooly and unscientific and goes against everything that the scientific method teaches. It is basically one step above sociology.
So much of this made me angry. One of the text books (Collins GCSE ascience for the Edexcel 360 course.) was so desperate to appeal to the kids it had Jay and silent Bob in it (i wish i was kidding http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v505/big_fat_stu/lastscan.jpg). And so much of it seemed to be "SCIENCE!!!, RADICAL!!! DUDE!!!" when it was completely worthless.
Unfortunately the whole education system needs to be changed with all the testing done away with.
An excellent quote that sums this up is "You don't fatten a pig by constantly weighing it"
However it needs to start from primary entry rather than just changing GCSE and A-level, but no governement will ever do this because they won't see proper results (ie GCSE/A-levels) for at least 11 years when they probably won't even be in power and the next government will take the credit.
Those who can put up with the bullshit and stress teach
>If you want more science teachers pay them more money.
Back to the start again, because if you want to pay science teachers more you have to pay all the teachers more, because otherwise the unions go bonkers.
The competition commission should look at unions, they're broadly commercial and in some businesses exert a total monopoly on labour.
Science is my god
I will put my god against yours any day, lets see pure faith defend you from concentrated microwaves.
There are very few specalist science in education because they can get far more money elsewhere. The answer is simple if you want more science teachers pay them more money. It cost more time, money and ability to become a scientist that most other subjects so why should they have to take the same money as an media studies or business studies teacher. I could watch TV and make money straight from school without having to get a degree in either subject but to become even a bottom end scientist requires a minimum of 3 years of intense study.