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Why teach a STEM subject?

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Are you considering studying for a teaching degree and want to specialise in STEM subjects? Read on to discover why becoming a STEM teacher is both rewarding and beneficial to your career.

A secondary school girl taking part in a practical DT lesson

What are STEM subjects?

The term STEM in education refers to teaching pupils across four specific subject disciplines and stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. STEM covers anything that sits within these areas. Some of the STEM subjects you can study for your teaching degree at the University of Sunderland include:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Physics
  • Mathematics

You'll find the full list of our undergraduate and postgraduate education courses here.

What does a STEM teacher do?

There's a constant need for STEM teachers, not just in the UK, but all around the world. While STEM lessons at primary school level are usually integrated into the curriculum, secondary school STEM teachers often only teach within their chosen subject of expertise. This means that they can use their specialist knowledge and skills to inspire the next generation to consider a career within these highly important fields, which, at the moment, are struggling.

“I was looking into ways that I could train to be a maths teacher at secondary school level and the University offer a course where I can achieve this in three years. It’s fantastic to be able to go out on placements in the first two years, as it really helps you to build confidence and gain that valuable classroom experience.”

Laura Moss
BSc (Hons) Mathematics Education with QTS


Four reasons to teach a STEM subject

1. STEM teachers are in high demand

Demand for STEM teachers is high and continually rising, so it’s unlikely that you’d struggle to find a teaching job once you’ve graduated. There's a significant need to attract more pupils into these lines of work as our industry heavily depends on future scientists, engineers and other important STEM-related roles. Without them, our day to day lives would become very difficult as we’re reliant on these industries now more than ever.

2. You'll gain some transferable skills

While all teaching roles necessitate strong communication and high levels of organisation, being a STEM teacher will require other transferable skills which will stand you in good stead throughout your career. Critical thinking, problem solving and excellent teamwork are just a few of the valuable skills crucial to STEM teaching. It’s also important to have the ability to remain open-minded to new information and be flexible with your teaching methods, as the world we live in is constantly evolving both technologically and scientifically.

3. Financial support is available while studying

Given that demand for qualified STEM teachers is so high, there’s extensive financial support on offer to help attract more people to study within these areas. Undergraduates who specialise in secondary maths or physics education leading to QTS are eligible for a £9,000 bursary to contribute towards their studying. Postgraduate bursaries are available for an even wider range of STEM subjects, as well as scholarships of up to £30,000 for those undertaking a postgraduate teaching degree in chemistry, computing, maths or physics. You can find out more about these via the Get into Teaching website.

Former armed forces personnel who wish to retrain as a STEM teacher by completing an undergraduate degree may also be eligible for the Troops to Teachers £40,000 bursary. This bursary applies to those training to teach secondary biology, chemistry, physics, maths, computing or languages.

4. More opportunities for hands-on teaching

STEM teaching can be a challenge, but compared to other subject areas, there's often more scope for hands-on teaching which can make delivering lessons more enjoyable. There'll be lots of opportunities for practical activities, meaning the pupils can also have fun while learning. Because of this, they’ll probably be more engaged and more likely to remember information. It’ll give you the chance to be more creative with your teaching too!

Secondary school children using a Bunsen burner in a science lesson

Our STEM education courses

We offer a variety of STEM education degrees at the University of Sunderland, both at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

We’re proud to have partnerships with over 650 schools and colleges and you’ll spend at least 120 days on placement within one of these. Your academic tutors will support you to help find the perfect placement to suit your needs. This time spent in school will allow you to gain valuable, hands-on experience as a STEM teacher and broaden your subject knowledge. For those studying our Science Education courses, we also have some well-equipped Science Labs at Wearside View so you can put your teaching into practice on-campus.

Have we persuaded you that one of our STEM Education courses could be a fantastic choice for your degree? Find out more about our Teacher Training and Education courses.

Published: 28 April 2022