We use cookies to give you a better experience. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or read our cookies policy for more information.

Skip main navigation

What about subject knowledge?

Watch this video on the importance of subject knowledge
10.4
As well as a desire to make a difference in young people’s lives, another common reason to get into teaching is to share a passion for a particular subject area. Whilst this is a really great aim, it’s important to make sure that your subject knowledge matches with what is taught in schools. In England, we have a national curriculum that outlines what pupils should be taught at every stage of their education. In primary schools, pupils cover Key Stage 1 and 2 content, and it’s usual to have the same classroom teacher for most subjects. Because of this, primary school specialists are required to have a very broad subject knowledge, as they’ll be likely teaching very different topics in the same day.
47.6
In secondary schools, the situation is a little bit different, where teachers tend to have classes within a single national curriculum subject area. Up to the age of 14, pupils cover the Key Stage 3 content. But the Key Stage 4 curriculum is quite brief. Instead, pupils are taught the content as prescribed by the exam board, whose qualifications they will receive at the end of Year 11. Because of this, teachers must be familiar with the exam specification for the qualification that they are teaching. Exam specifications can be quite different between exam boards.
78.3
As a teacher it’s important that you have a strong understanding of the subject content that you’ll be required to teach, as this will allow you to plan more quickly and effectively and give you the confidence to answer people’s difficult questions. A good knowledge of the national curriculum will also stop you from teaching the wrong thing. Prior to starting your initial teacher education course, it’s important that you check your existing subject knowledge against the national curriculum and exam board specifications and work to fill in any gaps. Teacher education courses are very time intensive. Your mentors and tutors can help you to learn to teach. But there isn’t usually a lot of time devoted to the development of subject knowledge.
114.6
As part of this course, you will find ideas on how you can gain a better awareness of the required subject content and some ideas to audit and improve your knowledge before starting your teacher training.
In this video Richard explores the importance of subject knowledge. You may well know that you want to teach children but what? Think about your own experience of subjects both at school and since then if you have already gone on to further study or work. What subjects would you most like to teach and why do you think these to be important?
If you are planning on teaching a range of subjects do you have a specialist area? Are there aspects of subject knowledge that you still think you may need to develop?
This article is from the free online

Preparing for Teaching

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education