Shadow Schools Secretary Michael Gove has said that a Conservative government will exempt good physics (and science and maths) graduates from student loan repayments if they go into teaching. The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), meanwhile, has muddied the waters by claiming to have exceeded its targets to recruit and train teachers for all main shortage specialisms.
The teacher training quango has managed to massage the teacher recruitment figures to disguise the shortage of physics teachers in schools, by failing to set a target for their recruitment. The TDA reported that “for the first time ever” recruitment to all main specialisms has exceeded their targets and that “a healthy supply of well-trained teachers is entering our classrooms.”
The total number of mainstream registrations of Science teachers did indeed rise, by 1%, from 3655 last year to 3701, although to claim that the target of just 3405 was exceeded “by as much as 9%” seems to be over-egging the results a little.
The key omission, though, is that there is no target for physics teachers at all! Their numbers declined from 584 last year to an estimated 571. Bang goes the government target of having physicists making up a quarter of all science teachers by 2012. With a quarter of current physics teachers already over 50 and keen to retire, this target looks as far away as ever.
The Conservatives, though, look like they at least recognise the seriousness of the problem.
In a speech to the Sir John Cass Foundation, Michael Gove said
“We will make a new offer to people – similar to something President Obama wants to do. If after leaving school someone decides to do a maths or science degree at a designated university, achieves a 2:1 or First, and decides to go into teaching, the taxpayer will cover their student loan repayments for as long as they remain in teaching (until the loan is fully paid).”
This could be worth £40k to a teacher whose pay cannot otherwise be increased beyond that offered to other, less scarce, specialisms.
“Children in approximately 500 secondary schools across the country have no teachers with experience of physics beyond school.
“This means too many students being taught physics by teachers who may not even have taken the subject at A-level. How can students be inspired by teachers who themselves have no solid grasp of the subject?
I am up to my neck in coursework, annual appraisals, parents’ evenings and open days, in one of those months that make up for the long lazy holidays. So it is nice to know that teachers are the least bored workers in the country, according to a three year old survey I just found (note to the TDA – your press releases are not getting much attention!).
While researchers are in sixth place in the boredom stakes and engineers only marginally better in eighth, teachers report the lowest amounts of boredom of all graduate professions.
The full list from the Training & Development Agency for Schools’ Boredom Index:
- Administrative/secretarial (10 out of 10)
- Science research/development
- Human resources
- Teaching (4 out of 10)
The press release adds:
When asked why they find their job interesting, 81 per cent of teachers questioned said it is the challenge of the role, 81 per cent because no two days are the same, and 86 per cent said they enjoy the interaction with people. Sixty-four per cent also rate the opportunity to use their creativity.
Employees surveyed say they are mainly bored because of the lack of challenge in their jobs (61 per cent), whilst not using their skills or their knowledge makes life tedious for 60 per cent. And boredom through doing the same things every day (50 per cent) is also to blame.
You might ask yourself how I found myself browsing through three year old press releases when I’m so busy …