EDUCATION WEEK: Target to introduce 925 new teachers 'will improve courses'

Physics reform a ‘major step’

The Department for Education is said to have made significant advances in improving the quality of physics teaching in the UK.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has asserted in a letter “the need to provide a specific allocation for the training of 925 specialist physics teachers” by 2012.

The assertion was described as “a major step in the right direction”.

Institute of Physics direction of education, professor Peter Main, said “with physics making up one-third of the science school timetable, an ideal situation would see one-third of all science teachers having a strong physics background. At present, only 19 per cent of science teachers are specialists in physics, leaving many students gaining their first impression of physics from biologists and chemists, who may lack confidence in the subject.”

He added: “In fact, more than 500 schools across England don’t even have a single physics specialist on their staff.”

The reform will please supporters of the Livingstone-Hope Skills Review, a paper released this week which highlighted a lack of physics knowledge amongst games students.

Professor Main concluded: “Our calculations show that to redress the balance between scientific subjects, we need to recruit around 1,000 new specialist physics teachers each year for 15 years. The Government’s target of 925 is a major step in the right direction.”

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