Anger over BBC ‘stereotype’ of 'scary' physics teachers

BBC home-schooling lesson accused of stereotyping physics teachers as being scary, grumpy and smelling of cabbage

Cel Spellman, a presenter on a BBC Bitesize home-schooling lesson, has been accused of stereotyping physics teachers

Teachers have taken offence to a comment made by a BBC presenter during a lesson for home-schooling in which he implied that physics teachers weren’t cool and smelled of cabbage.

The BBC Bitesize Daily lesson was broadcast as a homeschooling lesson to help pupils during partial school closures under lockdown.

It was being presented by actor and presenter Cel Spellman, who said: “Today I’m going to be your teacher, sort of. Don’t worry, I’m more like the cool, laid back drama teacher that you like – not the grumpy physics teacher with a faint aroma of cabbage who you’re a little bit scared of. Oh no, I’m the cool one.”

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The clip was posted on Twitter by scientist Dr Adam Rutherford, who said: “This callow actor casually slagging off physics teachers on the BBC is shameful, embarrassing and anti-educational. It serves none of the BBC’s values.”

BBC presenter 'casually slagged off physics teachers'

Dr Rutherford received hundreds of “likes” and dozens of comments, including from science teacher Bill Wilkinson, who said: “I didn’t realise I’m allowed to throw casual dangerous stereotypes into my teaching as long as it’s only 5 seconds a day. Which should I start with, something racist or misogynistic?”

@Techpriest said: “Is this really the kind of assumption you want to promote? Denigrating science with cheap stereotypes serves no one.”

@mark_lynas said: “Lame attempt to be funny and down with the kids. Just like a really bad teacher."

@Chrisbraban said: “How about promoting the joy and interest of physical sciences rather than dissing them and their teachers?”

And @DonDon7 said: “As a physics teacher, this really annoys me!! I always buy decent antiperspirant and my faint smell of cabbage is imperceptible.”

@BennyG10001 replied: "Ahhhh lighten up, Doc. Just a playful reflection of the old stereotype. There are plenty of other science influences that don’t conform to it. Just humour."


The BBC Bitesize Daily lessons are designed to aid home-schooling and to help teachers complement existing lesson plans or study areas, or as guides for parents to engage children in learning on topics covering all areas of the curriculum. They are broadcast across various channels – including BBC Two and CBBC – for both primary and secondary-aged children during the current lockdown period.

The BBC has been contacted for comment.

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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