What next for Subject Knowledge Enhancement courses?

2 November 2020 Michelle Rea

Dr Sam Sims, lecturer at UCL Institute of Education, has set out how subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) courses might be used to respond to a changing labour market.

Writing in Schools Week, Dr Sims provides a brief history of SKE in his article Après SKE. What next for Subject Knowledge Enhancement courses? before putting forward suggestions for how SKE should be adapted to meet the changing labour market demands brought on by the pandemic.

A one-size-fits-all approach would not be appropriate and will vary by subject. As Dr Sims suggests:

"All arts and humanities subjects are now oversubscribed and the proportion of applicants with relevant degrees tends to be relatively high in these subjects anyway. Shortages of modern foreign language teachers are also set to reduce dramatically, particularly if we account for likely increases in retention. The money spent on SKEs in these subjects might be better spent elsewhere.

"Maths has also seen applicants close to the target for initial teacher training this year. However, maths is an outlier in that every secondary school pupil studies the subject but very few study it at university. The pool in which trainees are recruited is thus relatively small. Despite the reduction in shortages, maths SKEs should therefore continue in order to support the subject knowledge of those who have not studied the subject beyond A level.

"Physics is another outlier. Despite the general influx of graduates, applicants to initial teacher training in physics has remained almost unchanged this year – hovering below 50 per cent of the target. Even a pandemic-induced collapse in employment hasn’t solved the shortage."

Visit Schools Week to read the full article