78% of trainee/
first year science teachers say COVID-19 negatively impacted their school placement experience
52% of trainee/
first year science teachers feel unprepared to teach practical chemistry lessons
62% of trainee/
first year science teachers say COVID-19 has negatively impacted their skills development
78% of trainee/
first year science teachers would like extra support in training on teaching practicals
Plug the skills gap or risk leaking future talent
Imagine starting your teaching career by spending months away from the classroom. That's what many of the 2019/20 and 2020/21 cohorts of trainee and first year teachers have experienced.
A Royal Society of Chemistry survey was conducted in the UK in April 2021. Of all respondents, 179 were trainee chemistry teachers and 80 were first year chemistry teachers. Their responses provided new insights into the impact of COVID-19 on teacher training which are cause for concern.
In our report, The future of practical science lessons, we sound the alarm on the potential long-term impact of the lost learning opportunities that trainee and first year teachers have experienced. It has ramifications not only for the teachers and their teaching, but for school students, undergraduates and the economy, if we don’t bridge the skills gap for this group of teachers.
Our ability to educate, train and develop future chemical scientists is crucial if we are to realise the UK government's Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. We must act now to avoid losing talented teachers, students and undergraduates from the chemistry pipeline.
Who should read this report?
- Education policymakers and influencers
- Teacher training providers
- School leaders and early career teacher mentors
- Teachers and trainee teachers
- Other stakeholders and employers with a role in teacher training, and those who have an interest in the next generation of science talent
Our action plan
We believe that funding focused on practical skills development, either directly given to schools or to training providers, is essential to bridge this skills gap. So we're calling on governments to plug the skills gap in early career science teachers as a result of the disruption caused to training because of COVID-19 restrictions, by providing up to £7m funding to address immediate needs for CPD focused on practical teaching.*
As the largest non-governmental supporter of chemistry education, we are committing our own resources to develop a tailored package of support for early career science teachers and trainees to improve their skills and confidence. This includes:
- a new microsite that includes relevant articles, videos and resources for these teachers
- access to live sessions on teaching practical chemistry
- free access to relevant CPD opportunities
These will be important additions to our extensive bank of resources that are already available on our education website.
Watch the discussion on the future of practical science lessons
We held an event with representatives from the College of Teaching, Education Endowment Foundation, NASUWT and a chemistry teacher, to discuss teacher training during the pandemic and the long-term impact on practical work in schools:
* Funding of up to £6 million for England and £1 million to cover Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. These figures have been calculated with the assumption that schools may need funds for external CPD courses and/or to provide experienced staff as well as early career sciences teachers further non-contact time in addition to that announced by the Department for Education in England on 21 June 2021.
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- The elements of a successful curriculum - our vision for 11-19 chemistry education
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