21 Feb 2020
By Mark Richards
Becoming a secondary school teacher of Science gives you the opportunity to engage pupils and help prepare them for future life. Not only that, it gives you the chance to be doing something you really enjoy – teaching the subject you love.
Furthermore, you can even specialise in your chosen Science: Biology, Chemistry or Physics.
Responsibilities of a teacher
As a secondary school Science teacher, you'll need to prepare and deliver lessons for a range of classes, potentially from Year 7 right up to Year 13, of various abilities. Marking work, giving feedback and maintaining accurate records of pupils’ progress is a key responsibility.
Naturally, preparing students for various qualifications and external examinations is a major part of the job. However, keeping abreast of developments in the subject and utilising a varied choice of learning resources to create stimulating and engaging lessons is even more important.
Routes into Science teaching
Typically, entrants into teaching complete an undergraduate degree course before going through a programme of postgraduate teacher training. The conventional route is to choose a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate of Education) course led by a university. The one-year course combines academic study with placements of teaching practice in at least two schools. The course leads to the award of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).
For Science teaching, it is usual that you will choose a single science to specialise in (Biology, Chemistry, Physics). However, this doesn’t mean that you will not be able to teach other sciences in schools. Most entrants take a PGCE in the science they read in their undergraduate degree – for example BSc Chemistry followed by PGCE Chemistry.
There are some institutions that offer combined PGCEs, such as Chemistry and Physics, or even Physics and Mathematics.
Generally speaking, most schools will allow teaching any subject you have at least an A level in, alongside your subject specialism.
Other entry routes
There are a greater and more diverse range of teacher training programmes available now. One such example is Teach First which gives entrants the opportunity to teach in challenging schools for two years and to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Education at the same time. You then choose between continuing a career in teaching or switching to different roles in the business sector or the public sector.
Other things to consider
As a core subject on the National Curriculum, Science teacher jobs are plentiful. Biology, Chemistry and Physics are all current ‘priority subjects.’ This means that you may be able to claim a bursary for training to become a Science teacher. Similarly, because of its priority status, should you wish to enter the profession and you don’t possess all of the usual entry requirements, there is often a way.
There are Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) courses that you can take if your degree is in an unrelated discipline.
Not only that, your pre-university education and post-university industry work experience will also be taken into account. This can be especially useful if you are interested in teaching an associated subject area, such as Engineering.
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