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Increasing provision of physics education and training

If physics is to fulfil its true potential, physics teaching must become an urgent priority. As things stand, a critical skills deficit exists. There is a serious shortage both of teachers with a science background at primary schools and of specialist physics teachers in secondary and further education. Every year, too few physics teachers start in the profession and too many leave it. Ongoing professional development for teachers is inconsistent and inadequate. As a result, there are major regional disparities in the quality of physics teaching.

The physics and engineering skills required now and in the future mean that there are opportunities available for young people from all backgrounds to work in a diverse range of organisations across the UK and Ireland. The skills and experience of technicians make a significant contribution to physics, and increasingly apprenticeships provide a pathway to fulfilling roles in a broad range of relevant science and engineering sectors.

At the IOP, we are determined to make sure that high-quality physics teaching and training is available everywhere and for everyone. Until that happens, the physics community will never be fully representative of wider society. Not only that, but we will keep limiting the ability of physics-based businesses to boost our economies and solve society’s greatest challenges.

Our aspiration: Every secondary school pupil in the UK and Ireland will have access to a specialist physics teacher.
Read our strategy

“The future of the UK lies in the young people in schools and colleges today, and that means it lies in the hands of their teachers, because teacher quality is the most important single factor in the success of any education system. The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed and accentuated the inequalities in educational opportunities between different socioeconomic groups and different parts of the country. A critical factor in addressing these inequalities is to level up the quality of teaching to ensure that all young people experience the best.”

Sir John Holman, Subjects Matter report

Subjects Matter 

In December 2020 we published our Subjects Matter report, which urged policy makers across the UK to "level up" student learning outcomes by backing a new subject-specific programme of support and professional development for teachers. 

This major piece of work was a collaboration, with contributions from over 50 educational organisations, subject-specific societies and individual specialists who were brought together by the IOP. We are leading follow-on work to forge this new partnership, rallied around a shared agenda, and developing a broader set of shared priorities to engage policy makers as a group.

The report is achieving impact already via citations in major publications including from Ofsted and CaSE.

Read the Subjects Matter report.

Read Charles Tracy and Laura Childs' article on Subjects Matter in Impact, journal of the Chartered College of Teaching.

Why Subjects Matter

Watch our animation which explains why subject-specific CPD is so important – and what we're doing about it. 

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Launch of a new teacher training course

The UK Government’s Department for Education (DfE) has launched a new teacher training course aimed specifically at recruiting engineers into teaching physics, in response to a suggestion from ourselves, the Royal Academy of Engineering and Engineering UK.

The Government has now contracted with six teacher training providers to run the course, with the aim of recruiting a total of an extra 50 engineers into teaching by September. We are working with the DfE to shape the proposals, and are part of the Expert Working Group that has been set up to advise on course content and marketing.

Learn more about our six aspirations