Physics with science teachers prepare and give lessons in a range of topics relating to the laws of physics. These include subjects that are important in modern life - energy (including nuclear and wind power), transport (ranging from mechanics to car alarms and GPS), and domestic equipment (such as televisions and mobile phones). They work to guidelines set up by the Curriculum for Excellence and prepare pupils, aged 11 to 18, for national exams.
You could be:
- using a variety of teaching techniques such as whole class lessons, demonstrations, practical work and experiments
- using a range of materials including text books, work sheets, computers, interactive whiteboards and scientific equipment
- organising and directing the whole class and helping individual pupils as required
- setting assignments, projects, tests and exams, preparing and carrying out continuous assessment, marking pupils’ work and writing reports
- keeping good order in the classroom and dealing with discipline issues
- doing administrative work which includes keeping a register of pupils
- preparing for and attending parent-teacher meetings and staff meetings
- sometimes supervising out-of-hours activities such as visits or social events.
Teachers in Scotland are paid on a national salary scale. The starting annual salary for a probationer teacher is £22,866.
If you do your probationary period on the Teacher Induction Scheme, and are prepared to work anywhere in Scotland during that probationary year, you can also apply for the Preference Waiver Payment. For secondary school teachers, the payment is £8,000 before tax and national insurance.
After your probationary year, your salary will increase to £27,438 and increase an increment each year up to £36,480.
If you teach in a remote school or on certain islands you may get an additional allowance. £1,941 for a distance island and £1,371 or £2,574 for a remote school.
Where a teacher is employed in a remote school on a distant island both the remote schools allowance and the distant islands allowance are paid, in addition to the teacher’s normal salary.
A principal teacher can earn up to £51,330, while the scale for depute head teachers and head teachers ranges from £45,111 to £88,056, depending on the size of school.
Salaries in independent schools may differ slightly.
- You would work in a classroom or laboratory.
- Your working hours are based on a 35-hour week and are usually 9.00am to 3.30pm or 4.00pm.
- You would probably teach for 22.5 hours a week, so you would have some time for preparation and marking or assessment in school. But you would often have to do more at home, in evenings or at weekends.
- You would have 13 weeks holiday each year, but would probably use some of this time to prepare the next term's work.
- You would have to prepare for and attend parent-teacher meetings, which are usually in the evening.
- You should be aware that teaching is a mentally and physically demanding job.
Workforce Employment Status
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To become a secondary school teacher of physics, you must have a degree in physics plus a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) OR the BSc Hons in Physics with Teaching from the University of Strathclyde OR the degree in Professional Education (Secondary) and Physics from the University of Stirling (in conjunction with Heriot-Watt University).
- For entry to a degree course you normally need 4-5 Highers, usually including Maths and Physics.
- You must also have Higher English.
- For the degree in Physics with Teaching at the University of Strathclyde, you need 4-5 Highers at AABB to ABBBB including English at C plus Maths and Physics at B.
- For the Professional Education (Secondary) and Physics degree at the University of Stirling, you need 4 Highers at ABBB (first sitting) or AABB (two sittings) including English and Physics plus National 5 Maths at B.
- Your degree should include 80 credit points in the subject you wish to teach. 40 of these credit points must be at Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework (SCQF) Level 8 (second year undergraduate level) or above.
- For entry to PGDE, you need an approved degree and Higher English plus Maths at National 5. National 5 Applications of Maths is accepted in place of Maths at all universities with the exception of University of Edinburgh.
- Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Strathclyde, the Highlands and Islands (Argyll College UHI, Inverness College UHI, Lews Castle College UHI, Moray College UHI, Orkney College UHI and Shetland College UHI) and West of Scotland (UWS) universities offer the PGDE in Physics or Physics with Science.
- There is a lot of competition for places in these courses. It helps if you have experience of working with children or young people.
- For PGDE courses, apply through UCAS.
New alternative route
- The University of Dundee also runs a new route into teaching through the PGCE Secondary Education (with supported induction route). This combines the postgraduate education with the induction year training. For entry, your degree must contain passes in at least two Teaching Subject Qualifying Credits (TSQC) in the subject you want to teach. You must also have Higher English plus Maths or Applications of Maths at National 5.
- Other new routes into teaching are being accredited and may be available in the future. The GTCS website will have the most up to date information
You would require a satisfactory PVG (Protecting Vulnerable Groups) check to show you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details.
Newly qualified teachers who want to teach in local council schools must complete a probationary period to demonstrate that they meet the Standard for Full Registration of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTC Scotland). Those who wish to teach in independent schools may also require to be registered.
You are guaranteed a teaching post with a Scottish local authority for a full school year to complete this probationary period.
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Job Outlook Scotland
Percentage of workforce registered as unemployed (Scotland)
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Job Outlook Scotland and UK
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What Does it Take?
You need to have:
- an interest in child development and an understanding of how children learn
- patience and adaptability
- enthusiasm and energy
- a firm and assertive approach when necessary
- good organisational skills
- a sense of humour and positive outlook.
You need to be able to:
- hold the attention of pupils of all abilities and encourage them
- work on your own and as part of a team
- stay calm under pressure
- get on well with other staff, parents and carers.
- You will do in-service training (often provided by local councils) throughout your teaching career.
- You might also take part time courses in specialist aspects of education, run by universities.
- You may be promoted to be a principal teacher or head of department.
- You may then become a depute head teacher and then a head teacher.
- You might move into related work such as learning support teaching, further education lecturing, advisory work, education authority administration or schools inspection.
Most teachers work in local authority schools but there are also jobs in independent schools, British schools abroad, such as schools for the children of British armed services and in private tuition.
Job vacancies are normally advertised on local authority websites or look on the myjobscotland website.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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