Record numbers apply to teach maths & science

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Record numbers of candidates are applying to teach science and maths. New TDA figures show that science and maths applications to teaching are up by 40 per cent and 33 per cent, respectively.  There is still, however, an urgent need for high quality science and maths teachers with around 6,000 required each year.

The quality of the incoming maths and science teaching pool is also high, with 53 per cent of those enquiring about teaching since the start of the current recruitment cycle (September 2009) having a 2.1 or better. More encouraging is that these top quality graduates are moving on to application stage. The latest available figures from TDA for 2007/08 show that 91 per cent of postgraduates on a teacher training course have a 2.2 or better, and 59 per cent have a 2.1 or better.

It’s not just about degree results however.  According to research amongst the general public, the top three qualities for potential teachers are a passion for their subject (40 per cent), communications skills (32 per cent) and leadership (11 per cent).  Career changers were also seen to bring team work (18 per cent) and organisational skills (15 per cent).

However, while the number of applications for maths and science is increasing, maths is still perceived to be the most challenging subject by the general public. Only a fifth (18 per cent) said they’d choose to teach maths if they were to join the profession and the same proportion would choose science.  These figures point to the ongoing challenge to recruit top quality teachers.

While the general perception remains that science in particular is most likely to be taught by men (at 37 per cent), the new TDA data is helping to bust the myth that these are traditionally male subjects. There has been a rise in women becoming teachers in these subjects, with maths teaching applications amongst women up 35 per cent since last year and science up by 41 per cent.

Frances Wing, who is Head of Physics at Nonsuch Girls Grammar School in Sutton, and has a first class honours degree in physics, believes that her knowledge of the subject  has helped develop her teaching skills and often uses real life situations to demonstrate physics principles in the classroom, which inspire children.

“Making the move into teaching was one of the best decisions of my life. I’ve progressed to be Head of Physics in just a few years and hope to rise further as I become more experienced. It’s great to see that there is a rise in people wanting to teach maths and science given how vital these subjects are in giving future generations the skills they need to succeed.”

Graham Holley, Chief Executive of the Training & Development Agency for Schools (TDA) said: “The increasing appetite for teaching maths and science is really encouraging.  However, there is still a huge job to do in getting high numbers of quality teachers into these priority subjects.  I’d urge anyone thinking about becoming a teacher to begin the process today. Good quality science and maths teaching will be key to our future economic prosperity”.

Professional Development Today
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