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Teaching course first of its kind in England to be approved by the Royal Society of Chemistry

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Chemistry course brings aspiring teachers up to speed 

A course for aspiring teachers offered by the University of East London’s Cass School of Education and Communities has become the first of its kind in England to receive a prestigious nod of approval from the Royal Society of Chemistry.

The RSC has endorsed the Cass School’s eight and 24-week Special Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) chemistry courses. The classes are designed for prospective chemistry teachers who need to bring their specialist knowledge up to speed before studying for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) qualification.

An email from the RSC notifying Cass leaders of the decision declared that “UEL has certainly set the bar high!”

The RSC continued: “We really appreciate the effort and work that you put into making the submission and visit a success. Congratulations on being the first of the chemistry SKE courses in England to be approved by the Royal Society of Chemistry.”

“We are absolutely delighted that such a prestigious organisation has endorsed our Chemistry Subject Knowledge Enhancement programme," said the Dean of the Cass School of Education and Communities, Helen Masterton. 

"The programme is part of our commitment to ensure high-quality teachers in this hugely important subject.”

The RSC’s endorsement programme arose out of concerns that the quality of SKE courses has been diluted, especially with the proliferation of online classes, Cass Senior Lecturer Sheeba Viswarajan, who runs the SKE courses, explained. She said online courses often did not offer a practical, hands-on component, for example.

Cass’s chemistry SKE programme does offer practical support and work, including field trips and activities such as working with data loggers.

Last summer, SKE students participated in a special summer school sponsored by UEL and the British Science Association, which brought youngsters from local schools to the Stratford campus for science classes and experiments. 

“It’s not just about teaching them to plug the knowledge gap. We do enrichment activities,” said Sheeba.

Chemistry is one of a half-dozen SKE courses offered by Cass. Besides the eight and 24- week programmes, there are also courses lasting 12 weeks.

This year’s SKE classes are scheduled to run from February to July.