Throughout my 21 years of teaching, physics teachers have been in short supply. There have always been science departments with no physics specialist.
Statistics show the situation is getting worse.
The National Audit Office (2016) has published results showing 28% of physics lessons are taught by teachers without relevant post A-level qualifications. This is an increase of 7% in the last 4 years. Only 71% of physics teacher training places were filled in 2015.
The shortage of physics teachers has led to the development of new routes into physics teaching for non-specialists. The DfE lists 30 university-based subject-knowledge enhancement courses (SKE). There are currently 52 school based physics teacher subject specialism training (TSST) programmes across England.
In the short term, however, most gaps will be filled by chemistry and biology teachers. These colleagues understand the concepts, but often lack the historical context of the ideas. This is important because physics is not simply a list of facts; it is the story of how we understand the universe. The story behind the big ideas is engaging and important.
So I am writing a book. It explores the historical development of six ‘big ideas’ and provides suggestions on how to teach each idea using practical work, models, assessment and text. My big six are:
- Action at a distance
I have a contract with Routledge and a deadline that is starting to look tight. I want to use this blog to keep me on track – feedback will be gratefully received.
I am currently writing the electricity chapter – I will share sections on this blog. I would greatly appreciate feedback.