Physics teacher training FAQs
Will I have to teach other subjects apart from physics?
The short answer is: almost certainly in Key Stage 3, maybe in Key Stage 4 and in exceptional circumstances post-16. The long answer involves looking at individual schools and individual teachers within them. It also depends on what subjects you choose to train in.
At A-level you’re unlikely to teach chemistry or biology. Schools are more likely to have specialist teachers in these subjects than in physics so your time will be dedicated to teaching physics.
I can’t decide whether to teach physics or maths
As physics and mathematics are closely related, a physicist or engineer is likely to have a strong mathematical background.
Fortunately you can now opt for a physics and maths training course offered by a selection of school and university training providers across England.
Here are two reasons why:
- You will be in a better position to teach maths with physics teacher training than you would be to teach physics with a maths teaching background. Despite their similarities, maths and physics are taught very differently. When you train as a science teacher you’re preparing for practical lab work and learn about risk assessments and health and safety considerations. As maths is a classroom-based subject, you will not encounter this in depth during your ITT.
- Imagine yourself in a room of fractious teenagers. As a maths teacher you’re in a classroom with a white board as your main tool. As a physics teacher you’re in a laboratory with a white board and a wide range of gadgets and experiments you can engage your students with.
I’ve graduated aged 21. Can I go straight into teacher training?
Some people know early on in life that they want to be physics teachers.
There is nothing to stop you taking an undergraduate degree then immediately applying for ITT. You could easily be standing at the front of a school physics lab passing on your passion at the age of 22.
What they will scrutinise your application for is evidence that you know what being a teacher is actually like. Have you spent time observing science lessons in a school? Have you spoken to physics teachers and understood the reality of the job?
It’s been a while since I took my degree
If you have a degree in physics or engineering or another physics-rich subject but have been busy elsewhere since you graduated, this is not necessarily a disadvantage when applying for ITT.
The main thing is you have decided to teach physics.
If the admissions tutors decide you would make an excellent teacher but feel you have insufficient subject knowledge to go directly to an ITT course, they may recommend you take a subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) course.
So, if you want to become a physics teacher but are worried that your subject knowledge is not up to date, look for ITE providers who mention SKE courses. You can also indicate on your application that you are interested in SKEs or speak directly to SKE providers.
The training provider will try to help smooth your transition into teaching. For example, there may be issues to do with getting used to a change in salary, starting again from the bottom or adapting to a new environment after many years outside education.
I don’t have a physics degree
The basic requirements to train as a physics teacher are a physics A-level and a degree, preferably in physics or a related subject.
If you have a physics-rich degree (for example engineering, biophysics, geophysics or a joint honours with physics), your application to train as a physics teacher will certainly be considered. The ITE tutors will look at your subject knowledge and decide whether you would benefit from a physics SKE course.
I studied at a non-UK university
Overseas qualified teachers
If you have qualified as a teacher inside the European Union you may be able to access teaching positions as if you trained in the UK.
If you qualified outside the European Economic Area, you will need to gain qualified teacher status to teach long-term in the UK.
Get into Teaching has further information for overseas qualified teachers.
Graduates from overseas universities wishing to train to teach in the UK
The first thing you need to do is have your degree evaluated so it can be compared to an equivalent UK qualification.
Get in touch with the National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) who will give you a letter of comparability.