Q2. What opportunities are there for teachers and technicians to develop professionally and how are they encouraged to pursue them?
These could include:
- subject specific professional development courses
- engagement with subject associations
- keeping up to date with science through reading and networking
- sharing ideas with colleagues, for example peer-to-peer observation
Why this is important
- Science develops rapidly. Teachers need to develop and update their subject knowledge alongside their teaching skills. Teachers with in-depth subject knowledge and exciting teaching styles are more likely to inspire students to achieve their best and continue with their studies.
- In its Maintaining Curiosity report, Ofsted links subject-specific continuing professional development (CPD) courses for teachers with outstanding science teaching. “Of the 64 schools where teachers had access to science-specific training, 17 schools were outstanding. This contrasts with the 25 schools where no recent science training had taken place; only one of these was outstanding.”
- Independent studies found that a CPD course at the National STEM Learning Centre led to:
- 86% of teachers confirming positive impacts on pupil progress and attainment, engagement, and motivation to study science
- 94% of teachers confirming positive effects on their own knowledge, skills, practice and confidence
- 85% of school leaders reporting positive impacts on the quality of teaching in their schools.
- Research shows10 that one of the most effective ways for teachers to improve their teaching is through sharing ideas with colleagues.
The largest source of high quality CPD courses for science education in the UK is STEM Learning, used by more than 95% of secondary schools and 18% of primary schools.
- You can compare your school’s spending on CPD with other similar state-funded schools across England using the Teacher Development Trust’s online tool.
- According to the OECD’s PISA 2015 survey, 80% of science teachers in England had undertaken at least one day of CPD in the three months prior to the survey.
Ideas for improvement
- Governors should ensure that a comprehensive CPD offer to teachers is built into the school’s strategic plan.
- Most schools will have policies and practices to encourage teachers of all subjects to share ideas and learn from each other. It can be useful for departments to compare notes on how they do this.
- The Teacher Development Trust has produced a CPD quality framework12 (Appendix) – a detailed structure to rate the quality of CPD across several areas.
School or subject leaders may find it helpful to know about the following:
- School Leaders should ensure that their appraisal procedures for staff are taken seriously by following up areas of improvement with opportunities for CPD.
- STEM Learning offers up to date CPD courses across the country. There are generous bursary schemes which enable teachers and technicians to access these courses at low or no cost and often include contributions to cover travel and other expenses. Project ENTHUSE helps fund participation at the National Science Learning Centre and Impact Awards support other Science Learning Centre courses.
- teachingscience.co.uk collates high quality CPD resources and features a self-review CPD toolkit.
- The Stimulating Physics Network supports teachers by providing physics CPD, particularly for teachers without a specialist background, as well as offering coaches.
- The Further Maths Support Programme and the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics offer CPD courses for teachers.
- Subject associations can offer resources, CPD and support for teachers, including the Association for Science Education, Royal Society of Chemistry, Society of Biology and Institute of Physics.
- There are many schemes that recognise excellent teaching and contribute towards development, for example becoming a Registered Science Technician or a Chartered Science Teacher.
- There are several science education themed conferences that take place in the UK every year including:
Other questions in Teaching
- Q1. How many science and maths teachers have qualifications relevant to the subjects they teach?
- Q3. How do teachers inspire and engage their students?
- Q4. How many science lessons include practical work?