Pre-ITE: Refreshing your Physics

“The best thing about the PGCE is that it has reinvigorated my interest in science. I’m noticing science everywhere I go, giving me ideas for potential lessons and examples of science in the real world. I’m also interested again in science documentaries.” (PGCE student, 2012)

Before you start teaching, it is probably more useful to ‘read around’ subjects so you know what is interesting within them. Indeed, getting yourself interested in any given topic may be your first challenge.

The real test of your subject knowledge will come when you try to teach it, so revising before you begin your course may not be time well-spent. Most teachers agree that the first few years in the classroom involve a steep learning curve, as you get to grips with topics that you thought you understood. They report that that their subject knowledge developed and deepened in ways you cannot anticipate.

  • What’s on the curriculum
    Familiarise yourself with the current GCSE and A-level Physics and Mathematics specifications to get a feel for what is expected at those levels.

  • Self-diagnostics
    Attempt some GCSE and A-level physics exam questions from a range of exam boards to see where you feel you need to brush-up.

  • Log your progress
    Put together a portfolio as a way of auditing your knowledge. Start by picking an A-level and a GCSE spec and the National Curriculum and track your progression. Record your confidence in your own knowledge and understanding. Then think about your confidence to teach it. You’ll begin to notice that these are two different things…

  • Do try this at Home!
    Choose a few Marvin and Milo experiments. Have a go at performing and explaining them to friends, relatives etc. Even try videoing yourself, watch them back and perform a self-critique.

  • Supporting Physics Teaching and Teaching Advanced Physics

    We have created these resources for teaching physics at 11-16 and 16-19 respectively. If you have some time to familiarise yourself with them before you begin planning lessons, you’ll find them really ease to use later on.


Other IOP websites


A community for teachers of physics and their supporters


A support network for teachers and pupils of physics in England


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