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Secondary teacher training: maths or chemistry or computing?

(15 Posts)
RockGarden Tue 06-Jun-17 10:12:22

I'm tentatively considering secondary teacher training, and was wondering whether anyone could advise on subject choice: maths or chemistry or computing?

I have various volunteer experience and regular employment over several years in secondary and primary schools, and out of school with children of all ages. I worked in my original engineering industry for over a decade.

I have a non-core science degree (and further degrees), with undergraduate-level modules in the full breadth of sciences, maths and computer science. Therefore, there isn't an obvious subject specialism for me, and I probably need to do subject enhancement, or some extra study (e.g. OU study). I think my preference would be chemistry, but I would love to understand more from teachers about how the teaching these subjects differs, and what I should think of to make the subject choice (if I do apply).

noblegiraffe Tue 06-Jun-17 16:24:08

I have the utmost respect for science teachers who have to teach the same kids that I do, but in a room full of acid and fire. With some groups I get nervous when we have to use compasses in maths. Science can be tricky because while you usually get to teach just your specialism at KS4 and 5, you will probably have to teach biology and physics lower down the school.

Computing is becoming much more in demand and I think the computer science GCSE and A-level are meant to be much more interesting and demanding to teach than the old ICT. The downside is that you get some kids taking the subject who think they are hackers, spend a lot of time on 4chan and don't actually want to work hard. Computer science teachers at my school are either part time or teach another subject like business studies to make up their timetable.

I'm a maths teacher. Obviously I like it, but as a core subject with headline results there can be quite a lot of pressure. It can also be quite dull to teach fractions over and over to kids who don't want to be there.

Idontmeanto Tue 06-Jun-17 18:17:13

I would say train in chemistry. That will leave you able to teach a practical science. If you fancy maths as well most schools will be more than happy to offer you some, but it's harder to move the other way iyswim.

DitheringDiva Tue 06-Jun-17 18:53:59

Purely going by where the most shortages are, then I'd say maths or computer science. There isn't that much of a shortage of chemistry teachers (or maybe that's just the area I live in?). As a PP poster said, if you train as a chemistry teacher, be aware that these days you are not training in chemistry really, but in general science, and you'll have to teach all three to at least GCSE level. So even though you enjoy chemistry most, have a good think about how much you will enjoy teaching biology and physics, because you'll have to do it.
It's also a choice between whether you want to do a practical subject or one that's pure theory.
However, if chemistry is your favourite, then it's not a bad choice at all - there are jobs out there and due to the practical element, the teaching is very varied.

RockGarden Tue 06-Jun-17 22:14:08

I think I'd be as comfortable to teach all the sciences, so that's not a concern per se, but I'll see if I can get more observation / experience in science classes to see how science teachers manage, as noblegiraffe says, "in a room full of acid and fire".
I wonder to what extent computer science might be the subject du jour, and not have the longevity of science / maths in terms of its popularity / uptake in schools in the future. It does sound like maths is more in need / shortage than science, maybe, which could make it easier to find jobs that work well for me (location etc).
Thank you all for your insights.

Rosieposy4 Tue 06-Jun-17 22:32:34

As a science teacher i think it easier in our rooms of acid and fire than a regular room. Always the back up of a bit of awe and wonder, even with a difficult class. It's fun, and you get to burn stuff. Yes get into schools and get some observations but teaching Science is good.

FrogsLegs31 Tue 06-Jun-17 22:37:36

I agree with Idontmeanto on being able to move around later.

I'm a Biologist but discovered while teaching all three sciences that Chemistry is my favourite science to teach.
So wonderfully fun, logical and practical grin

BonnesVacances Wed 07-Jun-17 07:50:32

DH, who teaches Physics and Chemistry, says it depends on what you want out of the job. He says that Maths teachers who have moved across to Science (or vice versa) say teaching Maths is easier as there's less marking and preparation. But that it's easier to make Science exciting and engage students.

As others have said, Science is a good subject to specialise in as it is varied across the three sciences. You could also specialise in Physics which currently brings with it a £30k bursary and would make you one of the 8 Physics teachers in the country. wink

PersianCatLady Wed 07-Jun-17 16:22:42

I am intending to complete my OU BSc (Hons) Computing and IT in November and I am planning on applying to train to teach Computer Studies to start in September 2018.

SquidgeyMidgey Wed 07-Jun-17 19:30:13

I'm a physics teacher by trade but mostly teach chemistry and if heartily recommend it. It's the science that most captures students' imagination and the stress of acid and fire is worth it many times over.

BlessYourCottonSocks Wed 07-Jun-17 20:07:47

Chemistry. We have repeatedly struggled to find one and we're a good and popular school. But our entire science dept is made up of 2 Physics bods, about 5 Biologists and 1 Chemist. You'll not struggle to get work as a Chemistry Teacher.

Goldrill Fri 09-Jun-17 13:45:09

I'm in my last hour and a half of training as a chemistry teacher, and I would also recommend it. I worked in a field of biology for a long time, and chemistry is just a lot more interesting and logical.
I have been surprised how much I enjoy teaching physics too - what you like teaching might not be the same as what you like learning.
I did an SKE last summer and it was very good - gave me a lot more confidence in my level of knowledge.
I would also add that, given the current cuts and impact on non core subjects, maths and chemistry are probably a much more secure option.

SqueeksAway Sat 10-Jun-17 11:47:46

I teach CompSci to A level and love it! Computational thinking is incredibly engaging and really pea stretch you and the students. Omg and noblegiraffe is so right about the 4chan kids grin

However it is a really dynamic syllabus so you are rewriting constantly and there is a pressure to keep up. You do need to be fairly decent at programming and be aware not just of Python and scratch but have a working knowledge of a few others Java/JavaScript C# plus accept ones you learnt may now be obsolete but also constantly assessing future needs (swift or go anyone?)
Plus you have to accept that some students cannot and will not ever be able to access the problem solving/algorithm aspect. And you are reliant on things outside your control like the network and whether your network manager has set up your software/hardware drivers correctly as it's hard to test with a full classroom - until you actually start the lesson so you have to have lots of contingency plans for new exercises

I taught Maths last year to bottom set 9 to try it out and really enjoyed it - it was so calm, so well resourced, you could plan completely in advance - data and marking so straightforward.

So my plan is when I can't face doing yet another completely fresh sow to move into maths and teach happily ever after smile

SqueeksAway Sat 10-Jun-17 11:48:59

Oh! Go with what you love - chemistry!

Lightpurpletulip Sun 11-Jun-17 21:59:56

Chemistry! I highly recommend it!

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