Professional development for secondary science teachers

Explore the benefits of enhancing your subject knowledge (SK) and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK).

Defining specialist and non-specialist

Put simply, specialist chemistry teachers have a chemistry (or closely related) degree as well as relevant professional experience or intensive subject-specific training.

A non-specialist, on the other hand, could be a science teacher with many years’ experience teaching biology or physics, or an experienced teacher in another subject specialism who now teaches chemistry.

The most important thing is, whether you’re a specialist or a non-specialist, we have the SK and PCK support you need.

Science teaching doing a demonstration

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Developing subject knowledge (SK)

SK is ‘what’ is being taught: the content and understanding of pure chemistry.

Subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) courses exist to strengthen your understanding of what the core content is – before moving on to the science of how to teach it.

SK for specialists

Are you thinking about becoming a chemistry teacher?

SKE courses are an effective way to prepare for teacher training by building up or refreshing your existing knowledge. (These courses are also known as pre-initial teacher training, or pre-ITT, courses.)

If you’d like more information on SKE courses, check out our advice on starting a career in teaching. There’s also a searchable course directory on the Department for Education website.

Are you already a qualified chemistry teacher?

You can use SKE courses to enhance your SK at any time during your career. We recommend you explore these courses available in the UK:

  • The NCTL Return to Teaching programme
  • Post-initial teacher training (ITT) courses
  • Subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) Courses for existing and returning teachers

SK for non-specialists

Are you a non-specialist teacher (with QTS) who now teaches chemistry?

You can boost your SK by completing subject specialist training in secondary chemistry. These courses include:


Pedagogical content knowledge (PCK)

PCK is ‘how’ you teach your subject: the ways you help students to grasp the content correctly.

PCK involves an awareness of misconceptions, an appreciation for contextualisation and an understanding of questioning.

Teachers who invest time in developing their PCK can increase their effectiveness in the classroom. They do this by employing a wide range of teaching techniques in the right way, at the right time.

Teacher in school laboratory

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PCK for non-specialists

Chemistry-specific PCK

A wide variety of research, including the What makes great teaching? report, confirms that a teacher skilled in subject-specific PCK is one of the most necessary elements in a successful classroom environment.

Our courses help non-specialists to develop chemistry-specific PCK and apply that knowledge in both lab-based and non-lab-based practical teaching.

PCK for specialists

The benefits of PCK

Having a strong theoretical understanding of subject-specific PCK is just the start of a successful chemistry teaching career. We can show you how to apply that knowledge and give you the opportunity to practice useful techniques in a classroom environment.

Our courses lay out all the elements required to plan successful lessons, give you space to practise the techniques and show you how to judge your own performance. You’ll also get a support network of peers and course leaders to give you valuable feedback.


Career progression

There are a variety of routes to advance your career but whichever one you choose, strengthening your skills as a chemistry teacher will support your progress.

How can we can help?

Gain professional recognition

We can help you become a Chartered Science Teacher (CSciTeach), a mark of excellence recognised with a professional qualification.

Attaining CSciTeach proves your commitment to your profession by demonstrating the positive impact you’ve had on science teaching and learning at your school.

Join our community

When you become a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, you get all these benefits:

  • A monthly copy of Chemistry World magazine
  • Access to extensive collections of journals, eBooks, databases and more via The Virtual Library
  • Opportunities to connect with other education professionals through our Education Division and interest groups, including the Curriculum and Assessment group, the Chemical Education Group and the Educational Techniques group
  • Career support through our careers specialists, events and resources

Get more information about becoming a Royal Society of Chemistry member.