For physics, read biology plus pound;4,000

11th April 2003 at 01:00
BIOLOGY graduates are to be paid almost pound;4,000 to train as physics teachers to plug shortages of school science staff.

The Teacher Training Agency wants to to convert them into key stage 3 and 4 physics teachers by paying them around pound;150 a week to go on six-month subject enhancement courses.

They would then complete a conventional teacher-training course. The cash is equivalent to the pound;6,000 a year training bursary given to postgraduate trainees.

Many pupils are now taught physics by teachers who are not qualified in the subject.

More than a third of teachers taking physics at KS3 and 29 per cent at KS4 do not have an A-level in the subject, according to the Council for Science and Technology.

The Institute of Physics warned in a report recently of a crisis in teaching physics. It said: "The shortage of new physics teachers and the loss of physics teachers from the profession has concerned us more than any other factor facing the future of physics in the UK."

Applications for physics teacher- training courses were up 17.3 per cent at the end of last month, to 203. But more than four times as many biologists have so far applied (953). Last year, 4,858 people started biology degrees compared to 2,907 in physics.

Ralph Tabberer, the TTA's chief executive, said: "Biology and chemistry degrees can have sizeable amounts of physics in them. Are these people capable of being great physics teachers at KS4?. That is the deciding question, not just the qualification." Two pilot physics enhancement courses, supported by the Gatsby Foundation, are due to start next January, alongside a similar scheme for maths.

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