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8 week TES SKE course in Physics - How much work is it?

(21 Posts)
Bromeliad Thu 21-Jul-16 11:37:59

Sorry, posting here as similar threads have appeared in higher education with no answers.

I'm due to start teacher training in September, I've only just recieved my offer and I've been asked to take an 8-week subject enhancement course. I've got an undergrad degree and PhD in Physics and have been working in research for the last few years, but my knowledge of some of the basics is a little rusty as I finished my undergrad degree nearly 10 years ago. I don't think that it'll take much to get it up to scratch though.

As I've been placed so late in the term I'm going to have to do the SKE course in parallel with starting teacher training. I'm concerned about the time commitment as the information suggests 20-25 hours a week will be needed for the course. Has anyone done the SKE in similar circumstances and was it that much work? Most posts I've found refer to people who have been out of the field or are changing subject, so I'm hoping it might not take up quite as much of my time!

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cannotlogin Thu 21-Jul-16 11:44:37

My SKE was full time....are they allowing you to do it alongside the PGCE? Or are you assuming you will be allowed? When I did it, a condition of me getting onto the PGCE was to 'pass' the SKE.

Bromeliad Thu 21-Jul-16 11:46:55

You can now take them in parallel with training, I think that has changed this year. The earliest I can start is the end of August and that's at the same time as summer training for my scheme. I'm really quite worried about how on earth I can fit it all in.

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Bromeliad Thu 21-Jul-16 11:48:17

I'm actually not doing a straight schools direct/PGCE scheme but I'm still attached to a SCITT which is why I've only just been informed.

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cannotlogin Thu 21-Jul-16 12:27:05


For me, it was a full on course but not that taxing in terms of content as it was kept as simple as possible. It will be tough alongside teaching, that's for sure.

Bromeliad Thu 21-Jul-16 12:55:44

That's what I'm concerned about. I've gone over the syllabus and have covered all of the material previously, I've even taught some of it at undergrad level. So I'm not concerned about content, but it seems like it's going to be a lot of work and I just don't see how I'll be able to do it.

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Goldrill Thu 21-Jul-16 13:18:21

I'm doing a chemistry one at the mo, alongside my main job (which is quite hard work!). Mine's online and can start the day they get the paperwork through, which is the main reason I chose the provider, as I only got the offer a couple of weeks ago.

I've only got A level chemistry, and my degrees are biological - content is not causing me any problems so far. The pedagogy bit is all new to me though, so having to critique lesson plans etc is the bit which is taking up the time. Managing fine right now, but would not want to be doing it for long once term starts. Reckon three evenings and one full day a week?

Bromeliad Thu 21-Jul-16 13:28:33

Ok, thanks Goldrill, I can't start until the middle of August anyway as I've got to move country(!) and then go on holiday (much needed and without Internet access)! I think I'm going to have to discuss this with my SCITT. I was supposed to have started with a different one who didn't require the SKE or I'd have started months ago!

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DitheringDiva Thu 21-Jul-16 20:09:40

Is it possible to query whether you need to do the SKE at all? It seems a complete waste of time to me. Cynical me is wondering if someone gets an extra pot of money or something for pushing X number of people through the SKE, and obviously you will pass, so your an obvious choice to put through it, even though you don't really need to do it because your knowledge will be fine.

I'm a chemist, with a degree in straight chemistry and a Ph.D., then 3 years working as a research chemist, then volunteer work (teaching chemistry/physics overseas) for 2 years. So, like you, by the time I started my PGCE, I it was about 10 years since I did my degree, but I had absolutely no problems whatsoever with subject knowledge. Do people running PGCE courses not realise that working in research does actually involve using the scientific knowledge we learned in our A-levels and degree?? My research work certainly used it.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 21-Jul-16 20:13:29

Why on earth do you have to do an SKE course when you have a degree in the subject?

Bromeliad Thu 21-Jul-16 20:19:05

I have a feeling this may relate to a form I filled in at interview where they asked how "secure" your subject knowledge was. The options were none, some or very and I answered some to most as (for instance) I haven't covered electromagnetism for a while. An evening with a text book would sort it out though. I think very secure would mean I was prepared to take an exam in it, my DP (who is in a similar position) said he would have just answered very to all of them as he had a PhD. Some analysis of male vs. female responses needed perhaps!

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Bromeliad Thu 21-Jul-16 20:29:00

(I did point out that I'd studied everything at degree level or higher though)

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DitheringDiva Thu 21-Jul-16 22:59:09

I do think you need to go back to them and assertively and politely point out that you don't need to do it. It's going to be a lot of work for almost no gain on your part. Also, since you'll be doing it alongside the PGCE, as usual, the things that really are important like proper planning and assessment will get pushed to the bottom of your 'to do' list, just because you've got a deadline to complete for the SKE.

And I have a strong view that subject knowledge is crucial - but in your case you really do not need to do the SKE.

They'll be desperate to get physics teachers onto their courses, so they'd be mad to turn you away just because you don't do the SKE, especially with all the qualifications/experience you have.

SisterViktorine Fri 22-Jul-16 18:40:11

I agree that this seems insane for somebody with PhD and industry experience.

I just wouldn't do it OP. If this TT avenue are going to turn you down for not doing it, let them. As PP said, a TT training avenue somewhere will bite your arm off. In fact my DH would offer you a job tomorrow in a top boarding school with accommodation thrown in, despite the fact you've never stood in a classroom before- such is the need for physicists.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 23-Jul-16 08:46:20

The course is for someone like me who teaches Physics with a Biochemistry degree. I agree that you need to be clear with them that you do not need to do it. Madness!

ceebie Sat 23-Jul-16 21:12:01

I'm currently doing the SKE Biology course. I have a degree and PhD, but I have not been doing science at all for the last 11 years.

It sounds like you don't need the course, and my PGCE provider indicated that if completing the course was going to be a problem (due to current job), they could probably review the condition. I would definitely query it.

Having said that, the course has been really helpful to me in providing structured study (although I'm obviously far rustier than you). It sounds like the different subjects might be dealt with slightly differently; the first week looked at pedogogy but thereafter I haven't had to review lesson plans as someone upthread said they had to do for Chemistry.

Each week, the Biology course involves watching about 4 presentations (totalling about 1 hour), but periodically asking you to go and reasearch other websites for a more in-depth understanding. Then there is a session task, which you don't actually have to submit but you are encouraged to do so as they have little to assess you on otherwise. You also need to submit a self-assessment each week, but this is just going through their answers to the session task and scoring yourself red/amber/green for how well you felt you answered the questions, and identifying any areas for further learning. Most weeks, you are also asked to write a post on a discussion forum about a particular topic.

The key thing to complete is your Learner's Diary, summarising how you got on each week, any areas you struggled with, etc. You are graded red / amber / green for the Learner Diary. I think you'd have to submit nothing at all to get a red; if you only put in a paragraph you'll get amber; write 300-500 words that sound sensible and you should manage to get green.

Therefore passing the course is probably not difficult. For me, the course is taking a lot of time, but mostly because I'm taking extra time with extended reading, covering topics more in-depth, to make sure I feel confident beyond the course minimum requirements. I would guess that I am spending on average around 15-18 hours per week. If your course was similar I would expect that you could easily pass the course by spending 10 hours per week, maybe less if you just wanted to do the minimum to get by rather than spend time covering the topics in more detail.

Having said all that, Biology is obviously pretty different to Physics so it's very difficult to know how the courses compare.

Good luck!

SisterViktorine Sat 23-Jul-16 21:17:28

I don't think you could do 10hrs of personal study on top of a PGCE. I couldn't have, anyway.

BobbinThreadbare123 Sun 24-Jul-16 17:13:56

You posted this on the TES forums too, OP.

You do not need to do the SKE course if you have a degree and a PhD in Physics, no matter how long ago. Tell them it's unnecessary or you've made a rod for your own back.

I also have a degree and PhD in physics and was out working in industry when I applied for my teacher training. Yes there were things I'd forgotten, but overall my subject knowledge for GCSE and A Level was more than adequate. Anything you haven't done for a while will come back to you very quickly anyway.

PM me if you'd like to talk about it; part of my job is to look after physics trainees.

Bromeliad Mon 25-Jul-16 11:55:42

I posted on the TES forum, then it wasn't approved for nearly 24 hours, so I posted it here as I realised I was more likely to be seen (it still doesn't have any responses there either). Sorry if this is against etiquette.

Thanks for everyone's help. I'm going to see if I can negotiate out of doing it as from my reading and this feedback it seems a bit pointless.

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antiqueroadhoe Mon 25-Jul-16 11:58:23

Say that having looked at the GCSE specifications, you realise that in fact you do know it and the SKE won't be necessary.

BobbinThreadbare123 Mon 25-Jul-16 15:03:52

I don 't blame you - TES is really slow!

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