Biologist? Forget about being a teacher

25th February 2011 at 00:00

One interesting aspect of the recent teacher training allocations is the separation of science into its distinct disciplines ("These reckless PGCE cuts have left students in limbo - and college-based training in crisis", 18 February).

Although there has been a large increase in the targets for physics (up 50 per cent to 925) and chemistry (1,070), there has been a massive cut in other sciences, including biology. Many providers were allocated small numbers of other sciences, which may not make viable cohorts. Even though we are on a mission to recruit more physical scientists, they will have to undertake training and gain subject knowledge in all the sciences, including biology.

The move to restrict training funding to graduates with a 2:2 degree or higher makes meeting these targets that much harder. Removing the capacity of admissions tutors to look beyond degree classification means that many otherwise good candidates will be denied training.

To meet the targets, the existing subject knowledge enhancement courses must be continued with the same incentives and funding. This way, we may be able to increase uptake in priority subjects. As yet, we have no news on enhancement programmes. Let's hope that the Government and the Training and Development Agency for Schools rectify this situation sooner rather than later. Already good candidates with excellent qualifications are being rejected from teacher training simply because they are biologists.

James D Williams, Lecturer in science education, School of Education and Social Work, University of Sussex.

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