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Teacher Network – Research Scholarship: Jess Hunt

Published: 4 May 2020

After completing my PGCE, I started teaching physics in a central London school for girls. In my first year of teaching I became Head of STEM, which means organising extra-curricular STEM provision across the school and trying to curb that dreaded drop in interest in STEM subjects (particularly with girls). Towards the end of my first year of teaching, I applied to the PGCE progression to MEd course at Cambridge University. Having completed my PGCE there too, this was a one-year part-time course to complete the other half of the Master’s in Education.

The master’s appealed to me because it would force me to make time to think critically about how students best learn, or the extent to which any new teaching fad actually has an impact. I found that in the rush of a normal school year it’s easy to run out of time to do either of these things and that simply keeping your head above water was challenge enough! A key issue in teaching in the UK is the high workload that teachers experience. I was interested to find a way to reduce workload whilst still providing the same quality of education for our students. And this is where Isaac Physics came in.

Their online platform automatically marks work with instant, but often not very detailed, feedback. Their book equivalent enables students to work through questions and submit their work for the teacher to mark. This would provide delayed, but perhaps more detailed, feedback. I chose to research this with one of my classes, where some students completed their homework online and some completed it from the book and handed in their homework for me to mark. Overall, there didn’t appear to be a significant difference in which method students perceived as more helpful to their learning. This is great because it suggests that automatic marking (with less workload for teachers) still provides the same educational benefits as traditional homework with pen and paper.

The master’s has encouraged me to think more deeply about how young people learn and to make sure that this is my priority; not simply defaulting with ‘how it has always been done’ at my school. It has given me the confidence that I have the skillset for additional roles in the science department as I am now in command of KS3 science. The research scholarship from The Ogden Trust made the decision to complete my masters in education so much easier as there was less of a financial implication. I am very grateful to them for the funding. I now feel more invested in this career path of being a physics teacher and look forward to the years ahead in this dynamic profession.

Ms Jess Hunt
Teacher of Physics; Head of STEM; i/c KS3 Science
St Marylebone CE School
(April 2020)

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