IOP Scholarships – meet one of our outstanding teachers-to-be

Last year the IOP launched its Teacher Training Scholarships, exclusive awards for just 100 outstanding individuals wishing to embark on a physics initial teacher training course. Meet one of our scholars, Lieke, and find out how the scholarship has helped her achieve her career goal. Could you follow in her footsteps and join her?

Lieke, who lives in Coventry, says: “After spending almost 10 years at university, with three degrees in my pocket (BSc, MSc and PhD in Physics and Astronomy) I suddenly found myself with the dream guy rather than the dream job. I’d much rather have it this way, but it took me some months to figure out what else I wanted to do as I am definitely not ‘house wife’ material. A friend dared me to find out if teaching could no longer just be a back-up plan but THE plan as it would offer me a position where I could be enthusiastic, bouncy and bubbly about physics, something I have always loved doing. Spending a few days in local schools, seeing how teachers and students interacted with each other and with me, sealed the deal for me.

Applying for the IOP scholarship was the next logical thing to do. I saw it as a challenge to see if I could persuade the Institute of Physics of my abilities and potential to become a good physics teacher; enthusiastic, passionate, with a good understanding of the subject, capable of explaining and also a little bit crazy. Somebody worthy of a prestigious scholarship!

I really enjoyed the assessment afternoon in London. It was a long afternoon (with a test, a discussion, a formal interview and lots of tea breaks), but with plenty of opportunities to meet like-minded individuals and people from the IOP, and talk to them about teaching and physics, about issues in current curriculum and pending changes, but also about the potential to become part of a body that is involved with educational policies. I was very impressed by the quality of other candidates and realised that even being invited for that day was already quite an achievement.

Receiving the scholarship feels like the icing on the cake, as it emphasises again how good the route into teaching suites me. I see the scholarship as much more than just as a source of money, I hope that becoming part of the IOP family is much more rewarding than that. I intend to learn as much as possible from the IOP members and mentors, but possibly even more from the other scholarship receivers, and hope they will learn a little bit from me too.

Being given the opportunity to become an ambassador, not just of physics teachers but, more importantly, of (female) physicists is better than any job I could have ever dreamt of.”