IOP applauds its latest Teacher Training Scholars

13 September 2013

Almost 100 of the IOP’s latest Teacher Training Scholars were congratulated on choosing “the noblest profession”, and challenged to inspire a new generation of physicists to follow them, at a celebration dinner on 5 September.

Georgina Dean

To overcome the shortage of physics teachers, the UK needs to recruit 1,000 people a year for the next 15 years into physics teaching, the IOP’s chief executive, Prof. Paul Hardaker, told them.

The event at the IOP’s London centre was for all those who have gone through the IOP’s rigorous selection process since last October and succeeded in gaining a Teacher Training Scholarship, which includes an award of £20,000 and access to other benefits such as a mentoring programme and supportive online network.

Prof. Hardaker said: “There are tremendous highs in teaching but also tremendous lows. It’s a tough choice, a tough training programme and involves a tough first few years in the job, but the Institute is here to support you in that. Just because you’re teaching physics, it doesn’t mean that we don’t think of you as physicists. Teaching physics is doing physics, and this is a home for physicists.”

He said that the IOP really valued its partnership with the Department for Education, which is funding the scholarships, and with the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL), whose chief executive, Charlie Taylor, also spoke to the scholars. He said: “You are the crucial generation. We will continue to have problems in getting enough people doing A-level physics. Your job is to go out there to inspire those pupils.” Physicists were in huge demand – in engineering, in the financial world, and in other professions - but children could also be prompted towards teaching, he told them. “This is a pyramid-selling scheme and your job is to recruit the next generation,” he said.

Taylor said that it was a great tribute to the IOP to be pioneers in this initiative, now in its second year . “Where physics leads, others follow, and that’s as a direct result of what the IOP has done,” he said.

The scholars also heard an inspirational speech from Georgina Dean (pictured), who teaches physics at St Bonaventure’s Catholic College in east London. She told them: “You’re all here because you’re passionate about physics, I hope, and the students will love you for it.” She had never worked as hard as in her first year of teaching, she said, but it was hugely rewarding. “It’s to do with the relationships that you build with the students. They’re so fun and so interested and you can see them progressing.

Offering advice about the first few months in teaching, she said: “Don’t give yourself a hard time – you will get it wrong and you’re learning. Don’t think that you can’t smile until Christmas – it’s a lie. Be yourself, otherwise the kids will see through you. If you’re quiet, be quiet (but scary). You have really got a great career ahead of you.”

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