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Early career professional learning

If you are an early career physics teacher in your first or second year of teaching, the IOP can offer the support to help you get the most from your first years of teaching.

As a newly qualified teacher, you may have missed out on several weeks of school placement experience during your training year due to COVID-19 and may be finding that your current school environment is bringing new unexpected challenges.

In response, the IOP is providing targeted support for physics early career teachers (ECTs). We want to help you get the most from your first years of teaching.

Physics ECTs teaching in England may be eligible to join our early career professional learning (ECPL) programme, which includes small-group mentoring and opportunities for networking with other physics ECTs. If you are in your first years of teaching in Wales, Scotland or Ireland please email us at [email protected] and we’ll send you details of tailored local IOP support.

The ECPL programme includes mentoring in groups of four to eight, group discussions and opportunities for networking with your peers. We cover physics pedagogy, subject knowledge and practical work. There are options for independent study if this fits better with your schedule. All the activities are regionally based, which means you’ll also build a support network of teachers from your local IOP region.

Some one-to-one mentoring may also be available.

There is no cost to you or your school. The time commitment is one to three hours each half-term. During the programme, you’ll build a subject-specific Record of Achievement that you can share with your head of department and add to your CV. It can also be used to support your application for future qualifications such as CPhys or CSciTeach.

The story so far

In January 2021, the ECPL programme began its pilot support package for a group of 60 physics teachers embarking on their first year in the profession. Teachers registered to the programme have taken part in group mentoring sessions, received one-to-one support or worked independently through a wealth of resources designed to complement the early career framework.

Participants have valued the expertise of IOP mentors who facilitate discussion around physics-specific pedagogy and research with several commenting that they feel the programme has accelerated their development, and one teacher said: “The sessions we have participated in have been great. They all link directly to physics and teaching physics. This type of subject-specific CPD was not offered in my school or NQT programme. I feel it has increased my knowledge about how students learn but also focused on some of the aspects students have difficulty with.”

As well as support from experienced mentors, the ECPL programme aims to build networks of early career teachers, as one noted: “It is a very helpful group filled with camaraderie: we shared ideas, and we gained insight into each other’s techniques and the way we coped with challenges. This network is my first really supportive professional network in the profession.”

How can I get involved?

If you’re a physics ECT* working in England, and will be in your first or second year of teaching during the 2021-22 academic year, register your interest and we’ll get back to you with more details.

Save the date: On Saturday 25 September 2021 there will be a chance to meet IOP mentors and fellow physics ECTs at an online event to introduce this year’s ECPL programme of activities. Event details will be sent to all ECTs who have registered interest in the ECPL programme.

* If you are an ECT with a different specialism but your timetable includes at least 50% physics, please register your interest as you may still be eligible to access some support from the IOP.

A bit more about the project

The Department for Education started to roll out its Early Career Framework in September 2020 and it is being introduced nationally from September 2021. This project investigates various models of subject-specific support that could be incorporated into the Framework. The ECPL project is jointly funded by the IOP and the Gatsby Foundation and will be evaluated by Sheffield Hallam University.

If you have any questions, please get in touch: [email protected].


Do you teach in the UK or Ireland?

Help the IOP, RSC and RSB map the secondary science teaching landscape and you might win £100! We have 20 prizes for teachers who complete the Great Science Teaching Survey by 8 April. Responses are anonymous and only aggregate data is reported.