Record number of physics teachers in training

28 November 2011

New census data published today reveals that the number of people training to teach physics is at its highest level since at least 1979 when the records were first published.

Record number of physics teachers in training

The statistics from the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) show that 864 people are training to become physics specialists this year – up 30 per cent on 2010.

Commenting on the publication of the statistics, Professor Peter Main, Director of Education and Science at the Institute of Physics (IOP), said, “We hope that these very impressive numbers represent the beginning of the much-needed sea change in recruitment to physics teaching.

“The setting of a separate target for the recruitment of physics teachers, distinct from science teachers, played a major role and shows that the government and TDA are serious about solving the alarming shortage of specialist physics teachers in schools.

“The introduction of a ‘Physics with Maths’ PGCE next September will also help by appealing to people who might be deterred by the prospect of teaching biology and chemistry alongside their physics.

“With these crucial steps taken and, now, the introduction of the IOP Teacher Training Scholarships, we can start to hope for a far brighter future when no student is deprived of a good education in physics – something every student is entitled to.”

On the Census data released by the TDA today, Schools Minister Nick Gibb said, “These figures show an encouraging trend towards raising the quality of graduates who enter the teaching profession, especially in key shortage subjects such as physics.

“However, if we want to have an education system that ranks with the best in the world, we need to do more to attract people of the highest ability into the classroom. We have just introduced bursaries of up to £20,000 for top graduates and a prestigious Institute of Physics Scholarship to recruit more high quality physics teachers.

“These measures will help ensure we have a new cadre of teachers with a deep and expert understanding of their subject, as well as the practical skills that teachers need, such as the ability to manage behaviour.”

The 2011 Census data on trainees.

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