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IOP responds to ‘bleak’ news on teacher recruitment numbers

2 December 2022

UK governments must do more to recruit specialist physics teachers and address poor retention of valuable physics specialists.

Responding today to the news that only 17% of the target was met for recruiting new physics teachers this year in England, Institute of Physics Group Chief Executive, Tom Grinyer, said: “These bleak figures – the worst in 15 years and down 21% from last year – compound what is already a desperate shortage of physics teachers, following years of missed targets and teachers leaving the profession.

“We know that students who have a specialist physics teacher at school are much more likely to go on to study physics at a higher level, opening up huge career opportunities – IOP analysis shows that one in 20 jobs in the UK and Ireland makes use of physics skills.

“Too many young people are already missing out, especially those in more deprived areas where schools find it harder to recruit physics teachers.

“The UK governments must do more to recruit specialist physics teachers, including through a bigger push on initiatives to recruit specialists from other related disciplines in engineering and investment in re-training for specialist teachers of the other sciences and maths.

“And, along with senior leaders, they need to act urgently to address poor retention of valuable physics specialists by tackling excessive workloads, improving deployment within their subject and ramping up investment in a co-ordinated approach to subject-specific CPD and professional development. We must support teachers to be the best educators they can and want to be.

“Failure to act now will limit a generation of young people’s career prospects and hold back the growth and prosperity we desperately need.”