Changes to the way we support teachers, schools and colleges


SPN summer schools have worked with many teachers

As the IOP starts to implement an ambitious new strategy, Unlocking the future, we are changing how we work in partnership with other organisations. 

In line with our move away from direct delivery towards partnership working, the Stimulating Physics Network (SPN) and our work to promote inclusion will be moving to other organisations.

We have led SPN on behalf of the English government since 2009, supporting schools to grow the number of pupils progressing to A-level physics. Although we will retain oversight of SPN, STEM Learning will take up responsibility for providing sustained mentoring, coaching and CPD for 50 lead schools and 350 partner schools between September 2021 and March 2022. Engagement in the network will focus on improving physics teaching knowledge – including substance and pedagogy – to grow A-level physics take-up. The network will run alongside support delivered through the existing network of Science Learning Partnerships and at the National STEM Learning Centre in York.

Louis Barson, Director of Science, Innovation and Skills at the IOP, expressed his gratitude to the IOP coaches, many of whom will now be employed by STEM learning. He applauded those who led the CPD whilst continuing to teach and acknowledged the dedication of teachers who have given their own time to develop their physics pedagogical content knowledge.

He said: “Our extended team and many friends in schools and teacher-support have done an amazing job. The SPN project has had a huge impact since we established it in 2009 – resulting in both a significant increase in the numbers of young people choosing physics A-level and in girls choosing physics. We’ve achieved this through increasing the confidence of many thousands of out-of-field teachers and supporting a culture of physics in science departments. We’re delighted that this will continue, and that STEM Learning will be delivering this important work. This marks a significant step towards our new model of partnership working, which we believe will enable quicker progress towards our aspirations, and support better, more inclusive physics teaching across the UK and Ireland.”

SPN will continue to complement the IOP’s Physics programme, which focuses on the environment of the physical sciences, from nurturing skills for the future and retaining IOP Affiliation Scheme: print copies of Classroom Physics – and more our physicists to supporting a vibrant physics industry. It will also complement our Limit Less campaign, which addresses the societal as well as education barriers that lead to underrepresentation (see page 4 for more details).

IOP has also awarded a contract to the Association for Science Education (ASE) to run the government-funded Inclusion in Schools project. The primary purpose of this project is to significantly increase the number of students from under-represented groups progressing to physics-based routes (A-level physics, vocational or technical) post the age of 16. It will do so by adopting an approach which involves targeted interventions to address barriers to inclusion at a wholeschool level.


We've won an award!

Teach Secondary Awards

We have been awarded 5 stars for our CPD programme.

Learn more