Press release

Scholarships continue as physics teacher recruitment rises

Details of continued investment in physics teaching.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has today (Thursday) announced the continuation of a £2m-a-year partnership between the Department for Education (DfE) and the Institute of Physics (IOP).

In a sustained effort to overcome the chronic shortage of specialist physics teachers, Michael Gove has announced that IOP’s teacher training scholarships will continue.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said:

Following the successful recruitment of 115 excellent trainee teachers this year, I’m delighted to announce another recruitment round over this academic year.

We are starting to see the root causes of our physics teacher shortage being addressed. By raising the status of the profession, we’re bringing highly sought-after physics graduates and career-changers, all with incredible aptitude to teach, into the classroom.

The £20,000 scholarships - available to graduates with a 2:1 or first class degree intending to do a mainstream physics, or physics with maths, initial teacher training course - have contributed to another year of record high physics teacher recruitment.

IOP has also today published a summary of trends in physics education and, as the note reports, “While there is no magic bullet to remedy the chronic shortage of physics teachers, the situation is starting to improve as steps have been taken by both the IOP and the Department for Education”.

With a need to recruit 1,000 new specialist physics teachers every year for more than a decade to address the imbalance between the number of specialist biology, chemistry and physic teachers in science departments across England, there is still a long way to go.

Professor Peter Main, director of education and science at IOP, said:

For the second year running, we are seeing record numbers of would-be teachers starting teacher training courses in either physics or physics with maths.

Last year, we saw 889 new trainees start their initial teacher training and this year all evidence suggests that we’ll see more than 900 entering teacher training. This is up from below 600 just two years ago.

IOP credits a range of developments with the strides being made to address the teacher shortage; from the government’s introduction of ambitious teacher recruitment targets for physics through to the teacher training scholarships and efforts being made to retain greater numbers of physics teachers in the profession once qualified.

With the shortage due to persist for at least a decade another government-funded programme called the Stimulating Physics Network continues to work with non-specialist physics teachers to ensure non-specialists (often biologists) have the knowledge, enthusiasm and confidence to successfully teach physics.

Notes to editors

  1. The IOP’s note on the summary of trends in physics education can be found on the Institute of Physics website.

  2. The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific society promoting physics and bringing physicists together for the benefit of all. It has a worldwide membership of around 45,000 comprising physicists from all sectors, as well as those with an interest in physics. It works to advance physics research, application and education; and engages with policymakers and the public to develop awareness and understanding of physics. Its publishing company, IOP Publishing, is a world leader in professional scientific publishing and the electronic dissemination of physics. Go to the IOP website.

  3. The Teaching Agency is responsible for initial teacher training (ITT) in England. It provides a comprehensive programme of support to help graduates become a teacher, providing guidance all the way through the application process. People interested in becoming a teacher should visit the Department for Education’s Get Into Teaching page or contact the Teaching Line on 0800 389 2500.

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