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Science teaching - advice for a re-trainer(11 Posts)
I need a career change (ridiculous anti-social working hours and I bet they are worse than those of any teacher)!
I am still thinking of doing a PGCE in biology but I am aware that I would need to teach physics and chemistry up to GCSE level. I have a first class BSc (hons) in Biomedical Science and MSc's in Biomedical Science and Public Health. But, I have never studied physics and only have a GCSE in chemistry (it was a big part of my first year at university though and I did biochemistry later).
Will this stop me in my tracks?
I am 45 BTW and so worried I am too old for this (I have a son 13 and a daughter 9 in June).
Forgot to mention that I work for the NHS.
For a start you're not too old to do the PGCE however do not underestimate how unsociable it will be training and then subsequently as a teacher.
What's your current job and do you have any up to date experience or observations of science teaching nowadays?
You will need experience in the classroom before being accepted in a PGCE in most areas.
As Suze said - don't underestimate the hours you will be working.
Perhaps look at the PGCE in post compulsory education. I did PTLLS and started DTLLS - there were a couple of people from the NHS on my course who were trainers in their jobs. Often the placement can be at a college.
Have a look at subject knowledge enhancement courses - some universities make attendance at one a pre-requisite for a place.
I think you'll be fine. It's not my GCSE Physics helping me now - it's my ability to self-teach.
I'm currently doing my biology PGCE and I have had to teach chemistry and physics at ks3 and ks4 on both my placements. I'm not going to lie, I've found it tough but it is getting much easier. I'm 39 and i also dropped physics after GCSE and hadn't done any chemistry since my degree. My top tips would be: find out which units the pupils are doing when you arrive in your placement schools then spend some time on rsc and iop websites as they have loads of advice about teaching/practicals/demos/models, ask your host teachers to share resources and approaches that work well, fake confidence as pupils jump on any sign you don't know what you are talking about and enjoy learning something new. I've enjoyed doing some physics and chemistry again even if it is really stressful sometimes. You can look through textbooks, specifications etc before the course but I don't think that you really get to know a topic until you teach it so don't worry too much. Most people on the course are in the same position and host teachers (mostly) understand that. I wadnt offered a subject knowledge enhancement course but some trainees did them and said that they were great but a bigger time commitment than they expected. If you have any questions feel free to pm me.
I'm a Physics teacher, I have a degree in Physics but only GCSE Chemistry and no Biology qualifications. I've taught all three at GCSE and A-level, just took more effort on my part to teach myself first!
I've been involved with interviewing potential PGCE trainees for many years and whilst your degree subject and lack of Physics would be a concern (we'd ask you about it in interview) it wouldn't mean you wouldn't get offered a place. You'd need to have recent experience in a school (observe some teaching), maybe some voluntary involvement with young people other than your own kids.
Be aware that despite the glossy ads there is generally a surfeit of Biology teachers and you may find getting a job more tricky, especially if you are tied to a particular area, although being an nqt and considerably cheaper to employ than more experienced candidates will be an advantage.
Don't underestimate 'anti-social hours' in teaching - it is a different sort of exhausting and all encompassing. There's a reason for the recruitment (and more worryingly) retention crisis, we really aren't a bunch of whinging workshy wasters, whatever the media would have you believe!
Your lack of physics wouldn't stop a school from offering you a job BUT they would then expect you to teach physics to GCSE and would expect you to self-teach what you need, with minimal input from other people in the department (people will help where they can, but they're generally too busy). This will mean you will have a lot of extra work on your hands.
I agree with PP about a) there are loads of biology teachers, so don't think you'll walk into a job b) PGCE courses have subject enhancement courses which you can do alongside/before the PGCE - they might make you do one.
Your age - it's not too old BUT I would only go into teaching at this age if you are absolutely DESPERATE to be a teacher and you absolutely adore working with teenagers (eg. you already run a guides or something). The ONLY reason you have given for changing career is to change your working hours - on this basis, I would say don't do it. You've got the "grass is greener" feeling, and believe me it won't be greener, it will just be different. I would look at your current job and find ways of making it work better for you - cutting hours (I'm assuming you'd have to take a pay cut to be a teacher anyway), sideways move etc.
I'm a physics teacher but also do chemistry to GCSE. If you want to stick to biology you will find it harder to find a post as there are many more biologists in teaching than chemists and physicists.
My view as a science teacher is that you would get on to a course.
Some schools but not all will require you to teach Chem and phys to gcse. This is more common if you have a biology specialism as there are more scientists with that specialism.
My suspicion is you wouldn't have to do another course, unless you wanted to teach physics to a level. Your best bet is to ring around the trainers in your area. Be aware there are many other options that just pgce.
Also, unless your current job is unbearable I'd stick with what you are doing. You will be learning completely new skills and the work is never done. My first years in teaching were pretty bad. I know the NHS obviously would present tremendous challenges to work for but teaching isn't necessarily going through be easier for you
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