IOP response to the Schools White Paper

In April, Lisa Jardine-Wright, IOP VicePresident for Education and Skills, wrote an open letter to Nadhim Zahawi, the English Secretary of State for Education in response to the government’s policy paper, Opportunity for all: strong schools with great teachers for your child.

Whilst Dr Jardine-Wright welcomed many of the provisions set out in the paper, she expressed concern that the plans do not tackle the major problems facing physics education. Describing the significant advantages to both the economy and to individuals that having a strong physics education system provides, she wrote, “Despite this undoubted value of the subject, physics education remains in crisis and many students, often those in more deprived areas, are denied the opportunities that studying physics provides - 70% of A-level students come from just 30% of more advantaged schools.”

Her letter called for action in three key areas:

  • Create fairer and more inclusive classroom cultures by implementing measures to fight negative stereotypes and prejudices that limit student opportunities
  • Implement a systematic approach to subject-specific CPD to ensure that there are enough, well-equipped physics teachers to provide high quality physics education and consequent opportunities for all students 
  • Establish strong governance mechanisms for the new arms-length body as it develops and ensure both educational and subject matter experts play a pivotal role in shaping its outputs and activities. 

Hari Rentala, IOP Head of Learning and Skills, said, “Implementing our recommendations will help teachers provide the best possible physics education for everyone. We call on the UK government to take this opportunity to address some of the deep-rooted challenges facing physics education in England.”


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