Press release

Physics teachers: 100 new scholarships a year to attract top graduates

100 new scholarships a year will raise standards by attracting top graduates to become physics teachers.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Government publishes implementation plan for teacher training strategy to train the next generation of outstanding teachers.

Education Secretary Michael Gove today announced a £2m-a-year partnership between the Department for Education and the Institute of Physics (IOP) to attract the best graduates to become physics teachers. It re-affirms the Government’s commitment to recruit the very best graduates into teaching and train them even better, so that standards can rise in schools across the country.

Around 100 scholarships worth £20,000 each will be available every year for graduates with a 2:1 or first class degree who are intending to do a mainstream physics, or physics with maths, Initial Teacher Training (ITT) course.

The IOP will work with experts in teaching practice to award scholarships. They will hand-pick candidates demonstrating exceptional subject knowledge, enthusiasm for the study of physics, and outstanding potential to teach. The IOP’s relationship with the scholars will continue into their teaching careers. This will develop a group of outstanding physics teachers, all part of a community of physicists across schools, universities and industry.

IOP research shows that around 1,000 new specialist physics teachers in England are needed every year for the next 15 years to plug the gap so that the subject is taught by specialist teachers. Last year around 275 fewer trainees were recruited to physics initial teacher training courses than were needed.

The scholarship comes as part of the Government’s implementation plan for its ITT Strategy, Training our next generation of outstanding teachers. The implementation plan is published today.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said:

If we want to have an education system that ranks with the best in the world, we must attract outstanding people into the profession, and we must give them outstanding training.

The scholarship scheme launched with the Institute of Physics will help make sure we have excellent physics teachers in this country with deep subject knowledge. They will help raise the status of the teaching profession and also make a huge difference in the lives of children.

Professor Peter Main, Director of Education and Science at the Institute of Physics, said:

These scholarships will help the Institute realise its aims of welcoming a greater number of physics teachers into the broader community of physicists and of increasing the spread of subject expertise in education. They will help us to develop excellent teachers from excellent graduates. We are saying to people with a love of physics and a good academic record - ‘choose teaching: it is a job that will reward you and exploit your abilities to the full’.

Renowned physicist Professor Jim Al-Khalili said:

Being a research physicist and a well-known physics broadcaster and author is all well and good but the really valuable work needed to inspire future generations of physicists is done by physics teachers in the classroom.

Every day teachers are communicating the beauty of the subject and the satisfaction that an understanding of physics can give you. So becoming a teacher is both a great opportunity for people to share their passion for the subject and means playing a vital role in giving the whole population a good grounding in the subject. And, as with any communication role, it is a fascinating and enjoyable way to spend your time.

The IOP will begin recruitment for the scholarships from today.

Ministers aim to expand the model physics scholarships to other specialist subjects from 2013/14 onwards. It is hoped other organisations will come forward who are interested in attracting and selecting trainees for the award of outstanding teacher training scholarships.

New teacher training strategy

The Government’s Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Strategy Implementation Plan, published today, re-affirms the Government’s commitment to recruiting the very best into teaching and a greater role for schools in training.

The proposals cover:

  • Encouraging more primary specialist teachers to be trained

From 2012/13, the Government will prioritise the allocation of places to courses with a specialism, rather than to generalist primary courses. This will encourage ITT providers to offer specialist courses. We will also offer schools the opportunity to train their own primary specialist teachers and then employ them as specialist teachers. For 2013/14 we expect to introduce additional financial incentives for trainees who undertake a maths, sciences or languages specialism as part of their primary ITT course, and who have a good A-level in maths, a science or a language.

  • Offering graduates with first-class degrees in physics, chemistry, maths and modern foreign languages significantly better financial incentives to train as teachers

Trainees will receive a bursary of up to £20,000 in their training year - more than double the current maximum of £9,000.

  • Requiring all trainees to have high standards of mathematics and English by requiring trainees to pass a tougher literacy and numeracy tests before they start training

Candidates who fail either of the skills tests will be limited to two re-sits for each test. Currently they only take the tests after starting their training course and they are allowed unlimited re-sits. New figures show that one in five trainees fail either of the basic tests first time round. The pass mark will also rise from September 2012. And a review of the tests will be carried out and new tests introduced in September 2013.

  • Allowing and encouraging schools to lead their own high-quality initial teacher training

Around 100 outstanding schools have already been selected to be ‘Teaching Schools’. These schools will lead the way on increasing school involvement in the training and professional development of teachers and headteachers. Outstanding schools will also be able to become accredited providers and be given priority over teacher training places.

  • Giving schools a stronger influence over the content of ITT training as well as the recruitment and selection of trainees

Teachers consistently identify two specific weaknesses in the initial training they have received: being able confidently to teach reading effectively, including using systematic synthetic phonics, and how to manage pupil behaviour.

  • Continuing to ensure that ITT provision focuses on the quality of placements and selection

Ofsted is currently consulting on improving the inspections for ITT providers.

Notes to editors

  1. Information on the IOP scholarship including details of how to apply, can be found on the Institute of Physics website.

  2. Details on becoming a teacher can be found on the DfE’s Get into teaching website .

  3. The Initial Teacher Training Strategy and implementation plan.

  4. DfE has also today confirmed ITT places for training providers for 2012/13 to the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA). Letter from Michael Gove to the Training and Development Agency for Schools.

  5. From April 2012, the Teaching Agency, a new executive agency, will replace amongst other bodies the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA). It will be responsible for ensuring the supply of high quality teachers and training, and for teacher regulation. This is subject to getting all necessary approvals, including parliamentary approval of related legislation.

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Published 8 November 2011