CPD taster - New to teaching A level physics

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This is a CPD taster created to give teachers a better understanding of what to expect when joining one of our secondary science courses. Below you will find a video and a task for you to do in your own time. Once you have done the activity, book on to New to teaching A level physics (NY252).


If you are new to teaching A level physics you will need to be confident in your understanding of the subject content. You will also need to help students to make the leap from GCSE, not just with the increased complexity of the subject but also with the increased workload and greater levels of independent study.

In this video, professional development leader Gill Gunnill talks about the importance of threshold concepts which are “central to the mastery of their subject” (Meyer and Land, 2003). The idea of threshold concepts is worth exploring, and in summary it represents the ideas in a subject, which may be conceptually difficult or counter-intuitive, that once understood enable students to 'see things in a new way'. A solid grasp of threshold concepts can help to boost students' confidence and unlock their understanding of the subject.

Task: Evaluating models

In the video Gill introduced the Improving Secondary Science report by the Education Endowment Foundation. The report makes seven recommendations for improving science in secondary schools.

The full document discusses each of the recommendations and provides examples of how to apply the recommendation in practice to produce a positive impact for the approach that you take and ensure that the strategies that you use are as effective as possible. For each of the seven areas there is section which points out further reading to signpost the evidence underpinning the recommendation.

The section on the use of models to support understanding makes 3 recommendations:

  1. Use models to help pupils develop a deeper understanding of scientific concepts.
  2. Select the models you use with care.
  3. Explicitly teach pupils about models and encourage pupils to critique them.

Task instructions

  1. Download the full guidance document from the Education Endowment Foundation’s report on “Improving secondary science”.
  2. Read section 3 (page 18) which discusses the use of models to support understanding.
  3. Identify a model that is commonly used at A level to aid the understanding of a difficult concept.
  4. List the ways that this model relates to reality and why you would use it.
  5. List the limitations of the model and how you might address these.

Next steps

The task above introduces you to the use of models to help your students grasp threshold concepts and succeed at A level physics. This CPD course will help new teachers and teachers new to teaching the subject at this level, to develop subject knowledge as well as pedagogical strategies. In this summary video Gill provides a brief overview of our courses in this suite and how they can support you.

Book your place on New to teaching A level physics (NY252).

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Please be aware that resources have been published on the website in the form that they were originally supplied. This means that procedures reflect general practice and standards applicable at the time resources were produced and cannot be assumed to be acceptable today. Website users are fully responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is in accordance with current regulations related to health and safety and that an appropriate risk assessment has been carried out.

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