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Secondary: Chemistry

Who is this course for?

This course is for chemists with a passion for developing a new generation of scientifically knowledgeable citizens. The words of Carl Sagan will resonate with your core values and beliefs about the function and purpose of science education: “Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. We live in an age based on science and technology, and if we don’t understand it, then who’s making all the decisions about science and technology that are going to determine the kind of future our children live in?”

Candidates will come from a wide variety of experience: some straight from a Bachelors degree, Masters or PhD; some who have worked in the education sector; and others with experience in the science industry e.g. chemical engineering or pharmacology. What unites these candidates is an affiliation with the scientific community and the associated underpinning depth of chemical knowledge acquired from a scientific degree founded on a minimum of 50% chemical sciences, e.g. biochemistry, chemical physics etc.

Furthermore, this course is for people who understand the discipline and rigour required to become a knowledgeable expert in chemistry and hence chemistry education. 

What will I study?

The goal of any science curriculum should be to enable students to become part of the international scientific community. Beyond this, the course places a strong emphasis on teaching students the required knowledge to leave school with a sufficiently accurate understanding of science that they are equipped to make informed decisions in their future, and be resistant to inaccurate persuasive media representations. 

The course explores the relationship between each of the science disciplines in relation to developing a student’s deeper knowledge of chemistry. An example would be the similarities and differences between energy as a concept in chemistry, biology, and physics. In doing so, we can support the students we teach in the transferability of knowledge such as ‘matter cannot be created nor destroyed’. We will ensure trainees have relevant knowledge of the English and mathematics curriculum so they can be efficient and precise teachers of science.  

Human nature drives individuals to make sense of the world around them. It is this predisposition which underpins science as a discipline but also leads to non-scientists drawing their own conclusions from their everyday experiences. These inferences can become the bedrock of an individual’s understanding of the scientific principles that govern the world. During the course trainees learn to recognise when their students possess a commonly held misconception and how as a teacher they can address these issues. There is an emphasis on how this would structure the nature of science lessons and what progress in understanding ‘looks like’.

In chemistry, the work of Dr K Taber, Dr V Kind, Prof R Driver, E Meyer, and R Land forms the guiding premise of this section of the course, using research with students from around the world to explore what these misconceptions are. e.g. that a chemical bond can either be ionic or covalent; or the difficulty in switching between the microscale and the macroscale.

The course provides trainees with plentiful opportunities to develop the ability to lead whole-class practical work with confidence; and deliver memorable but purposeful demonstrations in purpose-built facilities.. The role of practical work is critically evaluated with particular attention given to the use of such activities as: memorable teaching moments;  inspirational science; and the development of the scientific way of thinking. When students conduct practical work what are they actually learning? Is there progressional value in developing students' skill with apparatus such as a pipette and burette? 

How will I learn to teach chemistry well?

By joining this course you will be conferred into a collaborative professional educational community like no other. You will train alongside other chemistry trainees and be guided and supported by like-minded practitioners including your mentor and subject specialist leaders (SSLs), who have regional and national reputations in the field. You will be able to observe some of these professionals at work; to discuss with them the challenges and opportunities you experience; to learn from them and their various approaches to the discipline.

The mentors have extensive knowledge and experience of working with pupils and have taken an active, collaborative role in specifying the precise nature of the course you are following. You will have extensive opportunities to explore real examples of students' knowledge and understanding of the chemistry curriculum. These examples will form the threshold moments in your career development and enhance your developing expertise in interacting with students to maximise their knowledge of the subject. The exploration of these examples will happen through your own teaching and observation of others.

The course places a heavy emphasis on your ability to use your critical reflections of formal study and first-hand experience, experimenting with how this looks in practice and innovating to embed your own teaching style. Your personalised programme will give you the time to reflect and develop your understanding, with support from your mentor.

In addition to classroom practice, you will receive subject-based enhancement with curriculum experts who specialise in the practice of chemistry. You will explore the specific chemistry content you are expected to teach and work with your tutors to ensure you have the expected level of knowledge to teach each part of the curriculum. The course also includes the opportunity to  develop an understanding of the historical context of science teaching in the UK and evaluate these practices against a range of background research. You will use this evaluation to develop your own concepts of high-quality teaching.

Throughout the course you will develop the subject and professional knowledge to join the wider teaching community as an able practitioner, research-led, confident in practical work, and able to communicate sensitively with students from all walks of life. You will become an excellent teacher.

How much funding will I get?

Fee-paying trainees will be eligible for a bursary of £26,000 to help fund the course. You could also apply for a scholarship of £28,000. You can find more information about funding and bursaries on the UCAS website and Get Into Teaching.

You may be able to apply for a student loan to help pay your tuition fee or living costs - please visit www.gov.uk/student-finance for further information.