In association with the Teaching Agency

Now is the best time ever to teach maths or physics

Financial incentives and full support for graduates who want to teach maths or physics means now is the time to do it...

Maths and physics are enjoying something of a renaissance in terms of popularity among A-level students.

According to the 2011 A-level trend report the proportion of those opting for maths has almost doubled, while physics uptake is at a five-year high.

However, while demand from students is rising, the supply of teachers needs to be higher, which means now is a great time for those with maths and physics skills to train to teach.

“We want to attract the most able graduates to train to teach in priority subjects like maths and physics,” says Lin Hinnigan, chief executive at the Teaching Agency. “Good quality teachers in these subjects make a real difference to children’s learning and achievement and are key to our future economic prosperity.”

Creating a generation which approaches maths and physics with confidence is vital because the subjects themselves are important to the world at large. Shoyeb Memon, who teaches maths at Coventry’s Bablake school, points out that “without maths, no other subject would exist! New ideas and technologies are emerging so swiftly that we need new specialist teachers with current and fresh techniques.”

The Institute of Physics (IoP) recognises the same issue, according to Professor Peter Main, Director of Education and Science. “Physics is a marvellous combination of genuinely challenging and mind boggling questions, and is the underpinning science for a great deal of technology.” He adds that, although a great deal is spent on outreach and extra-curricular activities, “the evidence shows that a prime factor in enthusing and encouraging physics students is their teacher.”

For anyone thinking of following the route into teaching maths and physics, there’s plenty of help and support available.

“I’d urge anyone thinking about becoming a teacher to begin the application process today by looking at the ‘get into teaching’ section of the Department for Education’s website,” says Hinnigan. “There is a comprehensive programme of support available from the Teaching Agency to help you and large tax-free bursaries and scholarships for high quality graduates, especially in shortage subjects.” A ‘large’ tax-free bursary is no understatement: top candidates are eligible for up to £20,000 to help cover their training costs. There’s also an Institute of Physics scholarship for physics candidates of up to £20,000.

Support goes beyond the financial. In addition to the Teaching Agency's existing services, such as the Teaching Information Line (0800 389 2500) and social media outlets, including Facebook and Twitter (@getintoteaching), there’s the Premier Plus service. It’s available to those wishing to teach shortage subjects such as maths and physics who hold (or are predicted) a 2:2 degree or higher and offers one-to-one support from advisers and access to Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) courses, among other things.

This kind of assistance certainly helped Lara Pattison, who will begin her training to become a physics teacher in September.

“Everyone was really supportive, I couldn’t believe how warm and inviting universities were. There was also the bursary: I could never have afforded to train otherwise. I get £20,000 to teach physics and I’m going to do an enhancement course, which is also funded.”

Add the new physics with maths PGCE into the mix, which has been created as a partnership between the Teaching Agency and the Institute of Physics, and there are clearly plenty of ways to get involved.

And the benefits don’t stop with training with nine out of 10 new teachers who want to teach currently finding a job within the first twelve months.

Case study: Jess Laffoley

Jess Laffoley teaches Maths at Comberton Village College in Cambridge. She has a BSc in Mathematics with Music from Southampton university, did a PGCE in Secondary Mathematics at Cambridge and has been teaching since September 2011.

“Teaching was something I’d always had an interest in. When I was an undergraduate I spent three weeks in a school, which made me think ‘I’d really like to do this’. I loved my PGCE year and loved my training, being around people who have a great understanding of maths. I felt very supported.

“I always liked maths at school. I was good at it and I think that brings out a certain level of enjoyment. I found the final year of my degree quite tough but, when I went into the school, I suddenly started seeing things I’d never seen before. Not only did my knowledge grow, from making connections I’d never made before, but my enjoyment increased as well. It’s a logical, connected subject and I really enjoy linking up ideas and solving puzzles.

“The challenge of teaching is that it’s very time-consuming. You enjoy it, but it does take a lot of time.

“I had a few boring office jobs at which I clock-watched, but I never do that with teaching. The real benefit is the diversity and that I have a lot of control over what my day will be like.

“I’m happy in the classroom and there’s lots I can do to progress. Next year I’m going to finish off a Masters qualification; with the Cambridge PGCE you do half of it when you train and can complete a thesis once you’re qualified.

“So far it’s been good, it’s been what I expected. I’m pretty tired, but that’s what the holidays are for: catching up on your sleep!

“I’m at the stage where I know my classes really well, and it’s really nice.”

My first day

Chris Handley teaches science.

“The first lesson was one of the scariest things I’ve done. The lab felt about five times bigger with five times as many people in it. I soon settled in – getting in there and doing it was what I needed.

“The lesson went OK, the class was really well behaved and they were willing me to do well, which was a good confidence boost. The biggest difference now from then is that I’m better at managing my time.

“For anyone teaching their first lesson, I’d say: the more you practice, the better you get at managing situations.

“That’s how you learn. No-one expects you to be perfect!”

The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Arts and Entertainment
A shared vision: Cerys Matthews has been familiarising herself with Dylan Thomas’s material, for a revealing radio programme
arts + entsA singer, her uncle and a special relationship with Dylan Thomas
In other news ... Jon Snow performed at last year's Newsroom's Got Talent charity event
Life and Style
Text messaging changes as a relationship evolves
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?