As a school science subject chemistry is one of the more challenging parts of the UK secondary education curriculum for pupils aiming for top grades. The many difficult sounding words, concepts and terminology mean some school students dislike chemistry.
Being very practical, hands on with experiments and investigation the downside for less academically able pupils is they find chemistry theory difficult to learn.
All 3 school stem science subjects are important for a child’s learning, thus in years 7 to 11 pupils will compulsory receive at least 6 lessons per 2 weeks in chemistry, physics and school biology.
As a mandatory secondary subject for 11-16 year olds UK chemistry school teachers are always in demand in England, Scotland & Wales. Shortage of UK graduates training as a stem chemistry teacher means secondary school jobs are available most months of the school year permanently or shorter term.
Chemistry science school teacher shortage in UK
A science teacher shortage in UK secondary schools in all 4 nations has been ongoing for many years in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England.
Recruiting targets for teachers and initial teacher training courses are set each year in England to attract people to an education career, although targets are often no met.
As well as other science subjects, school maths and computing a shortfall of qualified chemistry science teachers exist in UK secondary schools that are qualified specialist in the subject.
England Education Department provides recruitment & retention payment for the first 5 years to chemistry a school teacher.
In addition, school science teachers of chemistry get training fees paid and a financial scholarship paid by the English education department.
Reasons for chemistry teacher shortage
Alternative career: Graduates with a chemistry degree have valuable qualifications & skills suitable for many job sectors and the education sector must compete with more alluring work.
Workload: Fairly high admin and lesson planning work load means a teacher’s requires being well organised, good time management and more time at home on school work.
Wellbeing: For a few experienced teachers stress of teaching becomes too much and they become to dislike school teaching and decide to leave the education profession. Secondary teacher stress comes in different for individuals from high workload, poor pupil behaviour, work life balance that impact family commitments.
Salary: For chemistry graduates commercial business, research facilities and universities pay higher starting & experienced employee salaries and bonuses.
Behaviour: Vast majority of 11-18 year old secondary pupils are pleasant, respectful and follow school rules. Prospective trainee and serving teachers are put off teaching as a profession by a few students that continuously push school boundaries and will intentionally disrupt lessons.
Expectations: Head of chemistry department expects students in a teacher’s class to be working at a certain level of academic ability. My experience as a secondary teacher is that at times unrealistic targets for individual pupil learning & grade attainment is set by schools & expected of a class teacher to meet those targets.
No consideration is given if a child is off school for weeks, moves from abroad with lower educational standard or the numerous pupils that don’t understand English that well in class lessons.
Education needed to become a UK chemistry teacher
- Good undergraduate degree or higher in chemistry or closely related.
- Qualified teacher status for the area of UK you proposed to teach.
- PGCE, PGDE secondary chemistry or BA/BSC Education.
- Continued up to date subject knowledge of all areas of the secondary school national curriculum.
- No criminal record from a mandatory criminal record check.
- Registered with the general teaching council in Scotland or England or Wales.
Barriers to enter the UK teaching profession at secondary level are fairly high to attract the right type of teachers that are qualified, have the skills & knowledge and personality.
Attracting well educated chemistry graduates helps raise pupil attainment when the teacher trainee has qualified as a teacher and is supported by experienced science department teachers.
School led teacher training
Some individual and school groups in England run training programs for prospective teacher trainees to qualify as a secondary teacher and gain a qualification, such as PGCE or PGDE.
Programs include School Direct where a chemistry graduate would undergo school led training over one year while being salaried or not.
This is a win-win for both the science graduate as the school doesn’t compete for the few experienced teachers and the trainee teacher is trained with a salary.
Secondary school chemistry teacher jobs market
Qualified teachers who teach secondary pupils 11-18 year olds will find each year dozens of chemistry class teacher to head of department vacancies to apply for around the UK.
South East England, especially London and parts of Scotland have the greatest amount of teacher school jobs available in chemistry.
Basically, South East England is not very affordable for families on a class teacher salary and parts of Scotland are remote with teachers discouraged from relocating to somewhere undesirable to them.
Chemistry teacher’s demand in UK is greatest when the bulk of the available school jobs are advertised from December to April each year to start in August or September for state and independent school teaching.
Job adverts for school teachers
Although the school year has started in Scotland advertised with Myjobscotland on 21st August at least 3 chemistry teacher jobs are available in Scotland secondary state schools in Aberdeenshire, Midlothian and Highland.
Similarly, in England 2 weeks before the start of the school year (2022) more than 20 teacher of chemistry jobs positions are currently available listed on only 2 websites, excluding all UK council websites and agencies.
The teacher positions currently advertised range from class teacher to head of chemistry vacancies secondary schools are try to fill.
UK secondary school know theirs a shortage of qualified and experienced chemistry teachers so they re-advertise job vacancies or list jobs available until filled longer.
With the continued science teacher shortage in United Kingdom secondary schools that don’t recruit a full time chemistry teacher employ a supply teacher short term until the post is filled permanently.