1. The Department for Education forecasts secondary schools will need 15,000 more teachers between 2018 and 2025 to meet a 15 per cent rise in pupil numbers (Foster, 2019), a recent NFER report found the number of in-year vacancies and temporarily-filled posts have doubled in secondary schools between 2010-11 and 2017-18 (Worth & den Brande, 2019). Significantly in 2017, the numbers of teachers leaving the profession exceeded those entering for the first time. The Department for Education (2018a) School Snapshot Survey: Summer 2018 findings revealed that 92% of secondary leaders have difficulty recruiting teachers for at least one of the five EBacc subject areas, with the most difficult being science subjects at 79%. Initial teacher training recruitment to secondary teacher training (2018-2019) is reported to be below the target necessary for maintaining supply (DfE, 2018b). The retention rates of early-career teachers (ECTs) have fallen considerably between 2012 and 2018 (Worth & den Brande, 2019), the percentage of teachers who enter teaching that remain in the state sector at the end of their first year dropped to 85% in 2018. In addition, retention rates of teachers between two and five years into their careers have dropped significantly between 2012 and 2018. These are the critical years where the right development opportunities, nurture and support can make or break a teaching career. These trends in national figures are largely reflective (based on feedback to LA senior officers) of the difficulties faced by secondary school leaders in North Lincolnshire seeking to recruit science teachers to the local workforce. It is highlighted nationally that there is an attainment gap in science at all levels, specifically within secondary school settings (EEF, 2019).
One of UCNL’s aims is to inform the regeneration of Scunthorpe by ensuring local people have the skills required by local employers. Scunthorpe has seen significant growth in the renewables and engineering sector, which requires people to have an interest and understanding of science. We also know that graduates that relocate to Scunthorpe for work, often leave to return home, whilst homegrown graduates tend to work and stay local. If we are to recruit sufficient students to train to graduate level to fill local demand, we need students to arrive with a passion for science. Therefore, training our science teachers to inspire the next generation locally will not only ensure current vacancies are filled, but also help to address the predicted longer term shortage in industry. UCNL recognise that this programme will only ever recruit a small cohort, but the ideology behind the programme makes this financially viable after considering the bigger picture.
2. Developing lifelong critical reflective practitioners, who are independent researchers, is fundamental to development as students need to ‘become agents of their own change’ (Hanson and Appleby, 2012:35). This ‘reflection-for-practice’ will enable application of knowledge within the workplace, ensuring on-going development of pedagogical approach (Thompson and Pascal, 2012:322). Many students will progress from this programme onto teacher training programmes therefore, need the skills to reflect and move on. The nature of science education requires students to continually reflect and develop their practice to enable flexibility and meet the needs of continually evolving education curricula within biology, chemistry and physics. The distinctive features of the programme include: the strong research-based focus and the opportunity for students to engage in individual critical enquiry in important educational issues and practice. Additionally, to develop knowledge, understanding and skills to contribute to research-informed improvement of policy and practice within the education sector. Teachers as researchers is fundamental to the development of practice as it allows experts in the field to focus on what is important to them to secure the best outcomes for the students they work with. BERA (2014) highlights the importance of having teachers as researchers, suggesting their contribution individually or collectively can investigate the impact of interventions or explore the positive and negative effects of educational practice. Research has evidenced that specially trained graduates have a positive impact on practice in school settings (DfE, 2017), and our students are identifying that they would like to progress to postgraduate study. By developing their ability to use research-informed practice they will become specially trained graduates who are able to move practice forward, making a positive contribution to the children and young people locally, potentially regionally or even nationally.
3. Linking theory, policy and practice enables students to understand how education has evolved in its current format and how proposed legislative changes can directly impact on their day to day practice. Students often struggle to understand the potential impacts of proposed change, therefore looking at past theory, policy and practice supporting the students to identify past impacts, will help overcome this troublesome concept. As Penn (2008:113) discusses; ‘studying history is a means of exploring the past, of understanding the continuities, and the wider context of what we do and how we behave’. The shift in focus within scientific study from theoretical concepts to a practical-based curriculum has resulted in the need for science educators who possess a fundamental knowledge of theoretical concepts alongside a broad range of practical skills within a laboratory setting. The enhanced focus on laboratory skills requires educators to understand the safeguarding, health and safety implications of teaching in a practical setting.
4.Students will complete a wide selection of laboratory sessions to enhance practical skills in this field. In addition to academic study, the student will complete extensive work experience within a school setting to ensure preparedness for their future careers. It is recognised that there is a shortage of general science teachers within the North Lincolnshire area. The key idea of the Education with Biological Science programme revolves around decreasing the deficit of science teachers within the local area by raising the aspiration of local community members to teach in schools. This programme also supports students to teach across all of the sciences, as trainee science teachers specialise in for example; Biology or Chemistry. Trainee teachers that have studied one science in isolation often struggle to teach general science lessons that involve physics, chemistry and biology. The study of Bioscience helps to make the students more comfortable in their wider scientific knowledge and therefore better placed for general science teaching.
5. Intrinsically embedding emerging fields of interest throughout the Education with Biological Science programme will ensure students are equipped with the knowledge and skills that will give them a competitive edge in a difficult economic climate, especially considering only one in three graduates are in graduate and skilled jobs (Steed, 2018). By covering emerging fields, students will leave the programme with the most current and up-to-date knowledge that will not only be a benefit should they wish to undertake further educational study, but also if they choose to enter employment. As such, students will be equipped with practical experience and an understanding, of the most current and emerging areas within this field, an important factor and attractive prospect for employers (Lowden et al., 2011).
BERA. (2014). Research and the teaching profession. Building the capacity for a self-improving education system. Final report of the BERA-RSA inquiry into the role of research in teacher education
UCAS Course Code: F164