Physics teachers need flash cars

16th April 1999 at 01:00
FLASHY cars for physics teachers plus single-sex lessons would encourage girls to pursue science and engineering careers, the Institute of Physics was told this week.

Girls from single-sex schools do better at science than those in mixed schools, while boys do better in mixed classes, physicist Averil Macdonald told the institute's annual congress.

Ms Macdonald, an educational consultant and physics lecturer at Reading University, said: "It is often argued that mixed classes are better because girls have a civilising influence on boys. But surely that just means we're prepared to sacrifice girls' potential to let the boys do their best?" Providing physics teachers with expensive cars would signal that science - and particularly physics - leads to prestigious careers, she said. "The Government's pound;5,000 bursaries for trainee physics teachers are a waste because students will take the money and run. Company cars would be a more effective way of showing teachers and pupils that physics is valued."

Teaching methods were only part of the problem, however.

GCSE science candidates are not given enough credit for achievement in the separate sciences, she warned. It is important that pupils know how well they have done in physics, often seen as the hardest discipline, she said.

"If we can remove some of the factors that hinder girls' success, then perhaps, one day, more women will share the joys and challenges of a science-based career and the UK's scientific and technical achievements will benefit from a greater pool of expertise," she added.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today