There are thousands of state secondary schools in the United Kingdom from Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland & England with pupil intake rolls in each school from 500s to 2,500+ in daily attendance.
At secondary age level biology is an important school science subject that’s part of the national curriculum for 11-16 year olds in all UK state and private school education providers.
As a compulsory science stem subject biology teachers are in demand at secondary schools in England & Wales, especially in London and South east England to teach 11-16 year old pupils. Fewer graduates conduct initial teacher training in biology resulting in a moderate shortage of secondary school teachers each year.
Biology UK school teacher demand
As all UK school pupils require being taught biology as a compulsory national curriculum subject by qualified teachers or trainees this results in a long term continued requirement for specialist biology teachers in each classroom.
Some smaller secondary schools may only have one or two biology teachers where large state secondary schools may have 4 qualified teachers that teach only biology or with another science subject, such as teach chemistry.
In England I taught in secondary schools with 980 pupils with 5 sets of each year from 7 to 11 in each class and a school with 2,500 students with 9+ sets of each year 7 to 11.
This meant pupils being taught biology in different classes at the same time by more than 2 specialist biology teachers in the science department, as UK schools have up to 30 pupils per class.
Biology graduate career options in UK
Options in education, research, public and private sector business careers are numerous for UK school leavers and biology specialist subject graduates.
Many UK university graduates don’t enter school teaching as a career for various reasons, although some do undertake a BA education or PGCE, PGDE biology teacher training course to become qualified as a UK secondary school teacher.
Starting biology teacher salary compared to other skilled graduates in research or private business is much lower over a graduates career and teachers generally makes less salary than working for a commercial company.
Less career salary as a teacher and life dealing with school children puts many graduates off from entering the education sector resulting in biology teachers in reasonable demand depending on school location.
UK school KS3 & KS4 biology subject
Biology is a key school subject for 11-16 year olds, and is one of the important areas that UK schools have great emphasis on along with other sciences, English and mathematics.
In England, for example, secondary school age level is split into compulsory (KS3 11-14) (KS4 14-16) & optional study KS5 16-18 years old. Each school decides the amount of time allocated to teach all biology topics required for each year of learning.
KS3 years 7, 8, 9
School pupils in year 7 to 9 aged from 11-14 are taught a range of topics each year to build up knowledge of biology towards further study at KS4.
When children start secondary school education in England (Year 7), Northern Ireland, Wales & Scotland (S1) at 11-12 years old they’re introduced to more practical lessons with theory.
Short video clips, audio, text & diagrams as well as verbal methods of teaching & learning is expected of teachers to enable good interesting lessons.
Year 7 biology topics include: Reproduction, cells, structures & functions of the body
Year 8 study biology of: Health & disease, diet & digestion and the respiratory & skeletal system.
Year 9 is taught a number of topics including the process of diffusion and how osmosis occurs in cells and it’s affects on cells.
KS4 years 10 & 11
During the last 2 years of compulsory education years 10 & 11 are very important for school pupils as their the two years where pupils concentrate on study towards final external examinations.
14-16 year old students are taught additional biology topics and extended learning of topics from previous years. Learning knowledge introduced by the teacher covers body health & safety awareness and some understanding of the worlds animals, mammals, reptiles and birds.
Final examinations are taken by 16 years old school pupils in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland that are nationally recognised, such as GCSE that students use to gain employment or further study.
As a science subject, biology is useful for children to learn as it provides a lot of everyday knowledge of the body, health and how life growths. Additionally, biology school pupils can use the accumulation of subject knowledge for higher education, research or a career in nursing, medical, life sciences or other industry.
School pupil’s can choose state or private independent schools in counties throughout the UK offering biology as a compulsory subject as it’s not only useful knowing, but also requested and expected by parents and pupils.
After KS4 pupils have an option to stay on at school and continue studying biology in sixth form years 12-13. KS5 in Wales & England sees students work towards AS & A level biology that can be used towards university degree course entry.
Type of biology teachers UK schools want
UK schools that teach secondary education for 11 to 18 year old pupils look for teachers with a good teaching record that can deliver quality differentiated lessons.
Science head’s of department expect outstanding or at least good variable lessons that engage school pupils keeping them not only interested in the lesson topic, but focused on the task set if not listening to the teachers instructions.
KS3 & KS4 UK school children can be a handful in relation to disinterest or a few pupils will disrupt lessons if allowed. Teachers require excellent behavioural teaching strategies, as their a must to keep students focused on task which helps greatly stopping any disruption in lessons from starting.
Teacher qualities UK secondary schools want
- Ability to plan and deliver lessons that are interesting & engaging that build pupils knowledge in a biology topic and meets the lessons aims & objectives.
- Create testing worksheets & materials for end of topic class tests pupils take to assess learning progress.
- Build a good positive rapport with other teachers and pupils to encourage learning.
- Follow and enforce school polices, especially in relation to behaviour management.
- Positive personality & attitude, presentable, team player willing to collaborate with other teachers & classroom support assistants.
- Excellent time keeper, organised & well prepared for each lesson and school day duties.
- Good undergraduate degree or above in biology or closely related and teaching qualification.
- Qualified teacher status and registered with General Teaching Council for the area of the UK allowing you to teach in secondary schools.