Shortage of specialist teachers ‘leaving science in a cul-de-sac’

The TES is reporting research that suggests the shortage of trained physics and chemistry teachers has placed school science teaching in a cul-de-sac, with both pupils and teachers suffering.

Birendra Singh, of the UCL Institute of Education, in London, spent seven years conducting detailed qualitative research into science teaching.

He found that many teachers lacked sufficient knowledge in several areas of the science curriculum. However, they were reluctant to request professional-development sessions from senior managers “in case it was seen as a sign of weakness and used against them”, Dr Singh said…

Any professional development offered to teachers tended to focus on what Ofsted inspectors wanted to see in lessons, rather than the specific needs of the staff involved, Dr Singh added.

He observed three comprehensive schools for his study. All of them placed pupils in streams (referred to as “fast”, “upper” and “middle”).

Specialist teachers were invariably allocated to the top (fast) stream. And often the top stream was given access to external speakers, denied to the other two streams. “The fast band gets treated differently,” one teacher told Dr Singh. “They are the privileged ones…”

“The findings present sombre reading about the condition of science teaching in state schools, and prompt the question as to whether school science has entered a cul-de-sac from which it needs to be turned around,” he said…

More at: Shortage of specialist teachers ‘leaving science in a cul-de-sac’


Is it wrong of me to suggest that after seven years a researcher ought perhaps to be able to shed a bit more light on things than suggested in this report?

Maybe its just the way it has been written up here, or maybe I am missing the significance, but don’t these sound like the kind of conclusions you might come up with after a couple of days talking to staff and students?

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