Teacher Network is a new initiative from the Institute of Physics which will extend its education outreach work while also providing extra support for teachers of physics by experts in the field.
We have found a number of exceptional teachers who are prepared, for some financial reward, to devote their own time to work at local level, stimulating and supporting physics teaching.
The pilot phase was completed in July, targeting PGCE students and NQTs, to ensure that they receive as much support as possible from the co-ordinator, from the Institute and from each other in their formative years of teaching. Newsletters, email lists, meetings for specialist physics teachers, "surgeries" and the development of a new give-away paper and electronic resources are used.
Co-ordinators have identified a large cohort of teachers teaching the physics element of the 11-14 curriculum who are not at all confident of their own understanding. This is not new, but the co-ordinators, working with the Institute's Education Department, the Supporting Physics Teaching (11-14) Initiative (see TES January 4, 2003) and, in some cases, the LEAs, aim to set up in-service training sessions for such teachers, andor those who will support them.
Satisfying the demand with regard to this large-scale problem will be a challenge and co-operation with the Key Stage 3 Science Strategy co-ordinators and the National Network of Science Centres will be essential.
During the next three years, the network will expand to a total of 30 co-ordinators serving throughout England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Existing co-ordinators have been overwhelmed with requests for help and support - evidence indeed of the need for a scheme such as this - but they remain amazingly cheerful.
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