The future of physics teacher CPD
Many of you will have spotted changes in how the IOP works to achieve our aspirations for physics students. In 2021, we were pleased to announce substantial areas of our CPD offer were being sub-contracted to STEM Learning and the ASE. Recently, the Department for Education in England awarded its 2022-23 contract for science CPD to a partnership overseen by STEM Learning, including the Ogden Trust and the ASE.
This article explores how the landscape for science CPD in the UK and Ireland might evolve over the coming year and introduces you to the providers that are here to support your needs. We also look forward to seeing you at a workshop very soon!
What role will the IOP play in the provision of physics CPD in England under the new arrangements?
We are excited to be able to continue working with the winning partnership for the DfE’s science CPD contract in a formal advisory capacity and look forward to playing our part in making the offer a success for teachers of physics across England. You can also expect to see IOP experimenting with new and complementary ways of reaching the collective physics education community, working closely with all our partners in physics education. For example, look out for the Physics for Everyone day held jointly with the University of Birmingham School of Physics. We will be bringing together those involved in physics teaching and physics education research with experts on inclusion, skills and careers, for a day of networking and sharing insights.
What will feel different for teachers?
Not a lot! There will still be lots of teacher CPD workshops, both online and in person. In fact, many of the experts leading the sessions will be familiar to those who have attended previous IOP events and you can expect to continue to see a wide range of high-quality CPD. The IOP will be supporting the organisations running the CPD, offering training for trainers and ensuring teachers have the best possible experience and outcomes from these events. We will also be working to ensure policymakers and funders continue to understand the importance of investing in subject-specific CPD and the importance of making it widely available and accessible.
What makes the IOP so well placed to play this role in the broader physics CPD landscape?
As the learned society and the professional body for physics in the UK and Ireland, we are uniquely placed to advocate for the critical role that teachers of physics play in helping unlock both learners’ and our wider society’s full potential. And we have long championed the importance of ensuring teachers have access to the highest-quality subject-specific CPD to help you do that.
What are the IOP’s longer-term ambitions?
We still have a long way to go to achieve our aspiration of every secondary school student across the UK and Ireland having access to an in-field physics teacher, and to tackling the inequalities and injustices that prevent or put off too many of our talented young people from taking up physics. By putting a greater emphasis on partnerships at the core of how we work, we hope to expand our combined reach and help make a difference to more physics learners and teachers across the UK and Ireland. And by acting as part of a wider coalition who share our strong beliefs in the value of subject-specific CPD, we are aiming to step up our advocacy for more ambition and public investment in future years.
We provide a world-leading science education for every young person across England, regardless of background or circumstance, achieved through careerlong, science-specific CPD to teachers of all key stages.
We coordinate the over-arching delivery of the integrated science CPD programme. Each strand offers a unique learning opportunity for teachers. Knowledge-rich, immersive residential CPD is provided by the National STEM Learning Centre in York.
Science Learning Partnerships are the focal point for local science CPD and the Stimulating Physics Network (SPN) provides eligible secondary schools with access to expert physics coaches to enhance physics provision and encourage more students to take physics at A-level.
STEM Learning provides a wealth of support for teachers, including access to thousands of resources to support teaching, networks of excellence and communities of practice enabling teachers to engage with peers, STEM enrichment opportunities and our network of STEM Ambassadors who promote career and employer awareness in the classroom.
We also provide bespoke CPD for schools and colleges, from primary through to higher education. Sessions are both face to face and online, tailored to meet the needs of schools and colleges to support teachers to develop their teaching skills, confidence and ability to enthuse students.
To increase the number and diversity of young people in science pathways and careers, we build within them a belief that ‘science is for people like me’. To achieve this we embed science capital approaches, building teachers’ confidence in contextualising and ‘bringing science to life’ in their classrooms.
The Ogden Trust
We aim to increase the uptake of physics post-16 by supporting education and engagement from 4-18, particularly for those from under-represented backgrounds. We are a family charity that has been supporting schools and teachers for more than 20 years. With effective CPD programmes from primary through to KS5, we help teachers inspire and nurture our future physicists throughout their education journey.
We will deliver Subject Knowledge for Physics Teaching (SKPT), a suite of blended learning modules at KS3 and KS4 for teachers without a physics specialism. There will be six modules, starting with forces, energy and electricity and they will be facilitated by school-based coaches to teachers around England.
The modules will provide teachers with core subject knowledge as well as relevant pedagogical reflections. Each contains up to 20 hours work over approximately eight weeks with around half face-to-face, focused on practical activities, with the remainder online learning. Teachers will be supported by their tutor – an experienced physics specialist teacher - who will provide feedback and help as needed. The training will enable teachers to develop skills and confidence in delivering lessons that bring physics to life in the classroom. Teachers can build their professional portfolio over time, completing the modules they need.
The Association for Science Education
Our vision is that all learners, regardless of their circumstances, are engaged in appropriate, valuable and interesting science education, supported by a professional science education workforce, which equips them to progress to physicsbased routes (A-level physics, vocational or technical) post-16.
We will be further developing and refining the Inclusion in Schools programme which is aimed at those in disadvantaged circumstances, enabling them to prioritise, implement and measure the impact of inclusive practice strategies at whole-school level. The long-term aim is to significantly increase the number of students from underrepresented groups progressing post-16.
Building on its earlier successes, we will strengthen the programme by developing networks to foster a supportive community which can share best practice. We will draw on established and emerging education research to ensure the quality of our support is high. We will also tailor our CPD to meet the changing needs of our schools with renewed focus on quality assurance.
We aim to include more schools in the programme, particularly those with higherthan-average numbers of underrepresented groups of young people. We also want to develop our blended offer for supporting networks of schools, locally and regionally, based around shared equality, diversity and inclusion priorities. Some schools and leading individuals will be offered and recognised with network leadership opportunities.
It is planned that during 2022-2023 IOP Scotland physics coaches will offer a blend of in-person and online events supporting the teaching of physics, including for early career teachers. After this year’s successful relaunch of the face-to-face Stirling Physics Teachers’ Meeting and joint IOP Scotland - SSERC Physics Teachers’ Summer School, we are already planning for 2023 when it is hoped these events will take place once again during the SQA exam period.
Our coaches will continue to support the teaching community online and in person. We’ll again be working with the Irish Science Teachers Association and the Professional Development Service for Teachers to provide engaging and relevant support and CPD. The annual Frontiers of Physics teacher conference will be in September. We’re currently scoping how to best provide specific support for our teaching community in Northern Ireland.
We’re delighted to confirm that our Stimulating Physics Network and Inclusion and Equity projects have received funding for another year from Welsh Government.
The programmes are free to sign up for and led by experts in physics teaching and development. We cater for everyone in science education, from student teachers to those who lead development for their colleagues. In the year ahead, we will be focusing on supporting colleagues who are currently developing their school curriculum, signposting resources and helping with ideas for local contexts.
The Inclusion and Equity project helps teachers identify barriers that may be limiting their students’ aspirations and will show how they can be addressed in the classroom and across the whole school. Sessions will be every half term, and there will be opportunities to work with our coaches and other teachers to develop a programme of interventions that can be delivered internally to staff, students and the local community.
You can also join online or face-to-face with other teachers of physics from across Wales and beyond to share ideas and resources. We hold regional in-person events – the next teacher conference will be in Llandudno on 24 - 25 June.
We’re here to help make teaching physics easier, especially if you’re a non-specialist or early-career physics teacher. We’re particularly looking to expand our support for schools in the east of England, the north-east, the south-west and possibly beyond.
Our trainers are ex-physics teachers, so they understand the reality of finding time for CPD. Our teacher support is flexible and designed to meet your needs. We offer mentoring (in the classroom or virtually), tailored training for your department (either in-person or via video calls) and link together local schools into physics hubs for regular CPD sessions. We also provide national training events, both online and face-to-face. These range from 1-hour online bitesize CPD sessions after school to 3-hour in-depth sessions on Saturday morning (jointly with ASE). We also have regional events such as the Winchester College Physics Festival (9 July).
On our website, we have an Experiment Library with over 200 resources, illustrated with images and supported with notes for teachers, students and technicians. You can search by topic, level, exam board, keywords etc. We also have 10-minute Physics Fuel films to support you in your teaching.
We’re building alumni networks with Future First to showcase former students from state secondary schools who have used physics since leaving school. We’ll be wrapping specialist teacher CPD into the offer.
- If your school is interested in working with Physics Partners, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Places are limited and activity will commence in September.