Common concerns – and how we can help

  1. Practical work: lack of kit, lack of familiarity with kit, new separate assessment at A-level

    Loads of practical advice and suggested demonstrations: www.practicalphysics.org

    A-level teaching ideas and resources: www.tap.iop.org

    Support in your region: www.iop.org/network

    Talk online to other teachers (and ask for advice with identifying and using equipment): www.talkphysics.org. There is a group for 16-19 teaching at http://talkphysics.org/groups/159

    What kit should you have and help planning your lab: http://www.iop.org/education/teacher/support/score/page_61561.html

    Support with Extended Project Qualifications: http://www.iop.org/education/teacher/resources/extended_project/page_62232.html
  2. Subject knowledge
    A-level teaching ideas and resources: www.tap.iop.org
    Look out for CPD days run by the IOP Education team at http://www.iop.org/events/education/ and in particular the Rugby Meeting. Also, our journal for teachers Physics Education reflects the needs and interests of secondary school teachers, teacher trainers and those involved with courses up to introductory undergraduate level.
  3. Exam results pressure
    There is no easy answer apart from do your best. The sooner you start teaching A-level, the sooner you get started getting good at it. Many teachers try sitting the exam papers themselves then use their results to see where their weaknesses lie and what they need to work on.
  4. Mathematics – performing calculations in public, students’ lack of knowledge
    Make sure you are friends with your colleagues in the Maths Department, so that you know what your students have covered in their maths lessons and can find out how they approach techniques. Run revision classes if you need to, ideally in conjunction with your maths colleagues. Practise any calculations you are planning to do work through on the board before the lesson, but as you get more experienced, asking your students to help and working through examples together is a great way to teach.
  5. Schemes of Work: having to write from scratch, too prescriptive, unclear
    There are no short cuts, but there are plenty of people out there who can help. Join our teachers discussion forum www.talkphysics.org and ask for ideas, or use our Physics Teaching News and Comment email list (subscribe here http://networks.iop.org/scripts/wa-IOP.exe?SUBED1=ptnc&A=1) to run your thoughts past other teachers. Getting your head round your school’s SoWs – or indeed writing your own – can be a powerful learning experience for you.
  6. Being the only physicist in the science department
    If you are based in England, you may be able to be matched up with one of our Stimulating Physics Support early career mentors who can offer you support. If not, make contact with the physics teachers in neighbouring schools and make sure you know your local Physics Network Co-ordinator
  7. Being a non-specialist
    If you are not a physics specialist but find yourself asked to teach A-level classes, contact our Stimulating Physics Network who may be able to provide your school with support and CPD sessions.
  8. Encouraging girls into STEM careers
    This is really important. Just one in five A-level candidates is female. The good news is that at undergraduate level, this proportion does not reduce, implying that if a girl chooses to study physics post-16, she is unlikely to be put off the subject by her A-level course. But A-level teachers need to stay gender aware and keep their teaching inclusive, staying particularly sensitive to the fact that often in mixed schools, there may be only one or two girls in the A-level group. As an A-level teacher, the place where you can make a real difference is between GCSE and A-level. You will be in a better position to encourage girls to carry on post-16 as you can tell them how great it really is. Make use of our Girls in Physics resources


Other IOP websites


Ideas and resources for teaching physics to students aged 16-19


A digital forum for teachers, technicians and their supporters