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Advice for developing subject knowledge

In this article Ellie Overland explores the different approaches you can take to develop subject knowledge prior to applying for teacher training.

Richard has outlined the importance of subject knowledge in the video in Step 3.7 and how being prepared in this area can help you make a successful application into teacher training. Sometimes applicants can arrive at interview for teacher training and they do not know what will be required of them in terms of subject knowledge. It can be fine not to have all the required subject knowledge at the start of teacher training but it is important for you to be aware of what is required and what it is you don’t know!

Once you have an idea as to the age group of the pupils you would like to work with, you need to check what subject knowledge you will need to deliver. Most countries have a standardised curriculum with some having more freedom or control over their own curriculum than others. In England, it is possible to look at the ‘National Curriculum’ to see exactly what subject knowledge is required at each level. There are also a range of text books and online materials that teachers can access to be able to support the development of this subject knowledge and to provide resources to use in the classroom. If you know the age and subject area you would like to teach, you can actually prepare for teacher training by exploring these documents and ensuring you know the required subject knowledge before you start.

For older students, their curriculum will be more shaped by the examinations they will take. In the UK exam boards have websites and for each exam it is possible to look at the ‘specification’ to see what subject content is required. On many of the exam board websites there are past papers so you could sit the exams yourself and test your own subject knowledge. Text books for these exams can often be bought second hand once students have completed the course. These are normally quite affordable but give the subject content and some self-assessment exercises to monitor your own progress. If you explore these before applying for teacher training it will give you a head start in terms of preparing yourself for teacher training. Studying for any particular ‘gaps’ in your subject knowledge before teacher training will actually reduce the pressure on you to learn additional subject knowledge once you are on teaching practice.

Have a think about your own subject knowledge. Do you think you have any ‘gaps’ that you might need to fill before starting teacher training? How do you think you might address these?

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Preparing for Teaching

Manchester Metropolitan University

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