Department of Education

SKE Science

The most common question we are asked about the Science SKE course is whether you can study the non specialist subjects that you will be required to teach. At present, the DfE will only fund an SKE course in the subject that you are training to teach. So a trainee Physics teacher can only receive the DfE bursary to study the Physics SKE course. However, through our partnership with Vidlearn™ we will provide everyone with the resources needed to update your knowledge for Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

The Vidlearn platform gives you access to:

  • videos recorded by practicing teachers covering all the content in the latest exam board specifications
  • ebooks with optional questions and online tasks
  • recorded lessons from real classrooms so that you can see how the material is delivered in schools
  • access to virtual lessons in the form of carefully structured workbooks and videos that cover GCSE content - especially useful for topics which you don't feel comfortable studying independently
  • feedback from an experienced teacher on each of your assignments
  • a course completion certificate detailing your strengths and areas for further improvement.

In addition to Vidlearn resources, you will receive:

  • access to ExamPro, a vast database of past exam questions searchable by topic and question type
  • a subscription to Focus Learning which provides online simulations of many practical activities in the GCSE and A-level specifications
  • optional weekly group tutorials via Zoom
  • guidance - including links to free resources - on how to adapt the Vidlearn assignments to suit your particular subject knowledge needs (eg. Biology GCSE assignment guidance).

All three science subjects are offered over 8, 12, 16, 20 and 28 weeks. You can find more details about what each course offeres on the Vidlearn website. All courses enable access to both core and optional units. Core units must be completed before you can get your course completion certificate. Optional units are recommended to support your wider subject knowledge. Core units will always focus on the subject you wish to train to teach. Optional units cover all three science subjects.

There are three basic types of unit:

  • GCSE
    There are two GCSE modules that cover the material in the GCSE specifications. There are 10-12 1hr recordings for each module. Within each module you wil complete online assessments, a Subject Knowledge Audit, and submit a 'substantial summary assignment' in which you present the material as if you were delivering it to a class. You will work independently on the modules, identifying gaps in your knowledge and addressing them using the course materials and your own research.
  • VL GCSE
    Structured Virtual Lessons via video and an accomanying workbook through which you will get ideas for tasks you can use in the classroom. At the end, you will submit a detailed reflection of your learning.
  • A-level
    Approx 10 A-level modules covering the material in the A-level specifications. There are several recordings for each module for which you wil complete an online assignment, a Subject Knowledge Audit, and submit a 'substantial summary assignment' in which you present the material as if you were delivering it to a class. You will work independently on the modules, identifying gaps in your knowledge and addressing them using the course materials and your own research.

Courses of different length comprise all the above core units.

8 week Biology, Chemistry or Physics: 200 hours

You must complete:

Core Unit: One of GCSE Biology, Chemistry or Physics (Due to DfE rules, this must in your subject specialism)

You have access to:

Option Units: GCSE for all 3 subjects / VL GCSE in all 3 subjects

12 Week Biology, Chemistry or Physics: 300 hours

You must complete:

Core Unit: VL GCSE and GCSE in Biology, Chemistry or Physics (Due to DfE rules, these must both be in your subject specialism)

You have access to:

Option Units: GCSE for all 3 subjects

16 Week Biology, Chemistry or Physics: 400 hours

You must complete:

Core Unit: One of A-level Biology, Chemistry or Physics (Due to DfE rules, this must be in your subject specialism)

You have access to:

Option Units: GCSE, VL GCSE and A-level in all 3 subjects.

20 Week Biology, Chemistry or Physics: 500 hours

You must complete:

Core Unit: VL GCSE and A-level Biology, Chemistry or Physics (Due to DfE rules, these must both be in your subject specialism)

You have access to:

Option Units: GCSE, VL GCSE and A-level in all 3 subjects

28 Week Biology, Chemistry or Physics: 700 hours

You must complete:

Core Unit: GCSE and A-level Biology, Chemistry or Physics (Due to DfE rules, these must both be in your subject specialism)

You have access to:

Option Units: GCSE, VL GCSE and A-level in all 3 subjects

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I receive a bursary?
There is a bursary of £175 per week provided by the DfE. This is paid for each 25 hours of study logged on a timesheet. The DfE approves funding claims on a monthly basis and we will need to wait until your funding has been approved before paying your bursary. For this reason, early application is encouraged.  

What is it like to study on Science SKE courses?
Courses are divided into modules. At the start of each module you complete an online multiple choice test. You also complete a Subject Knowledge Audit (SKA) against the material covered in that module.
There are a number of pre-recorded lectures that you watch and you also work through a course textbook, focussing on the areas of weakness identified in your Audit.
Once you are confident with the material, you prepare a summary assignment for that section of the course. This is usually presented as a set of MS Powerpoint slides that could be easily adapted for use in the classroom. We also encourage you to access the exam board specification and past exam questions and include these in the assignment. Your Sussex Tutor will give you guidance on how to prepare the assignment to suit your personal needs.
You will also have access to ExamPro, a searchable database of hundreds of past exam questions, mark schemes and examiners reports for GCSE and A-Level in each of the 3 science subjects.
Once you have completed your assignment, you go back and take the test and Subject Knowledge Audit again to check that you have made progress. You will write a short reflection on your progress and set targets for any areas that you still need to work on. The Reflection and Assignment is submitted to your Tutor who will mark it and provide feedback.
The VL modules are more structured, with a workbook accompanying a video. On the VL courses, the assignment you submit is a reflection on your learning and your feedback from your tutor is likely to be less detailed.

What if I can’t commit to 28 Hours a week?
SKE courses are very flexible. You are expected to complete the suggested hours by the end of August to be eligible to receive the full bursary. However, you can complete the course at your own pace. Your bursary will be paid to you on a monthly basis as you log the hours.

Tell me about the Practical Summer School
At time of writing, we are not sure whether it will be possible to offer a Summer School. You will get a lot out of the Practical Summer School if one can go ahead, though, and strongly encourage you to take part if you can. Once a decision is made we will publish the details here. 

Queries and applications

For more information and to apply, visit the Vidlearn website.

You can also contact the SKE Science Leader: Pat Doe