Whether we perceive the ability to remember twenty-something physics equations as useful or useless, it remains a fact of life that for the foreseeable future that young people sitting GCSE Combined Science or Physics have to do exactly that.

An analysis of the specimen papers released along with the curriculum showed me that unfortunately, some 30% of the marks are directly or indirectly linked to knowing those equations. My personal opinion is that the ability to parrot off an A4 sheet of physics equations is not a skill that most students are likely to need once the GCSEs are over. That said, learn them we must.

There are different strategies that can be tried out to learn these equations. I suggest postcards in the first instance. One postcard per equation, written in both symbols and words, together with all of the units needed for all of the symbols. The learning is in writing the cards, so to ‘borrow’ cards made by someone else will be nowhere near as effective as a student spending time making their own. The equations can be written on post-it notes and stuck around a bedroom, they can be turned into colourful posters with cartoons, and my most creative student to date wrote them over the cupboard doors of a soon to be demolished kitchen. His mother reported that even the builders were reciting physics equations while constructing the extension…. So, in answer to the question “mum, where are the squash glasses?” the reply could be F=ma.