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Early careers support for science teachers

Published: Jan 27, 2020 3 min read

Mark Wood

Within the north-west of England, we became aware through feedback from the schools we work with of a need to support teachers in the early stages of their careers.

This awareness was reinforced by a report from Wellcome, which showed that science teachers are more likely to leave the profession than their non-science peers. This is especially true of those who are newly qualified, with six out of ten leaving in the first five years.

We know that a shortage of science specialists affects the support that science departments can offer their early career teachers, and so we looked at ways in which this could be provided through our Science Learning Partnerships (SLPs) in that region.

Greater Manchester Secondary SLP offered an NQT conference, a one-day event where sessions were specifically targeted at teachers just starting out in their careers. The sessions at this conference were delivered by facilitators experienced at working with trainee teachers and those in the first few years of teaching.

By combining relevant content and practical strategies, these sessions helped to build the confidence of the NQTs. Giving them the opportunity to network with others in similar positions and to ask for advice from more experienced practitioners was also a key aim of the conference, so that the NQTs felt valued by the schools who were demonstrating support for their development.

Cheshire and Stockport SLP ran an Early Career Network where teachers within the first five years of their career attended a series of twilight sessions, selected to develop the skills they would need to enhance their teaching. These included effective feedback, misconceptions, running a STEM Club, and maths in GCSE science. Again, time was built in to each session for the participants to share their ideas and reflect on their practice.

The Department for Education’s teacher recruitment and retention strategy, states that “not enough early career teachers have the high-quality support they need to build the foundation for a successful career”. This made us appreciate the problem was not unique to our region. We are, however, within the early roll-out region for the Department for Education’s Early Career Framework (the extension of the newly qualified teacher period to two years) and we are planning to continue to build our offer to address this with the modification of an Early Career Conference and the extension of the Early Career Network courses.

Mark Wood (@markwood004) is a regional network lead for STEM Learning, Sarah Longshaw is Science Learning Partnership lead for STEM Learning

This article is taken from STEM Learning's Secondary Magazine. See all our magazine content here.

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