A selected group of trainee teachers will be eligible for bursaries of up to £20,000 under a new scheme unveiled by education secretary Michael Gove.
Students with a 2.2 degree or higher in physics, mathematics, chemistry or modern languages will be able to apply but not those opting to teach general science or "non-priority" secondary subjects.
The scheme has been touted by the government as the answer to recruiting much-needed physics, maths and chemistry teachers and improving teacher training standards.
During a visit to St Marylebone Church of England School, Westminster, Gove said the government was "determined" to recruit more first rate scientists into the classroom.
"We are trying to make it more attractive for the best scientists to teach in state schools. There are simply not enough people applying to become science teachers.
No-one goes into teaching for the money. There is a direct correlation between studying maths and physics for longer with what you earn. We don't think scientists should be penalised for going into teaching and we want the financial benefits to reflect this."
Gove highlighted the partnership with the Institute of Physics (IoP) in the launch of the new bursary scheme. Research conducted by the institute showed around 1,000 new specialist physics teachers are needed every year for the next 15 years in order to fill the current void. Around 100 scholarships will be available through the IoP, with the department for education providing the funding.
Professor Peter Main, director of education and science at the IoP, added the institute did not just want those who were adept at physics but instead it would look for physicists who had the "aspiration" to teach.
"We want people who can engage with pupils - not necessarily just those who have a first in the subject. Equally, we don't want those who can just teach physics, we want teachers to be able to do physics."
Against the backdrop of a practical physics lesson at St Marylebone School, where students were learning how "the motor effect" works through an experiment, the teacher leading the classroom could certainly both teach and "do".
During the visit, Gove also expressed his desire to recruit specialised teachers to primary schools, saying preparatory schools in the private sector benefitted from having maths and science experts in the classroom and state primaries should too.
"There is a disparity between the public and private sector primaries with the latter continually getting into top universities - and it is nothing to do with ability or skill. It is time pupils at state primaries had the same quality of teaching and opportunities as those at prep schools."
But the scheme does not reflect Gove's desire to see specialist teachers parachuted into primaries; there is considerably less funding available for those planning to teach in junior schools, as is there for "non-priority" secondary subjects. Somewhat surprisingly, both business studies and citizenship fall into the latter category, while physical education, religious education, drama and dance are classed as "priority subjects".
Funds available for trainee teachers from 2012
|Physics, mathematics, chemistry, modern languages||Other priority secondary specialisms and primary||General science and non-priority secondary specialisms|
|Trainee with first||£20,000||£9,000||£0|
Priority secondary specialisms: Art and design, design and technology, economics, engineering, English, dance, drama, geography, history, information and communications technology, computer science, classics, music, biology, physical education and religious education.
Non-priority secondary specialisms: Business studies, general science, applied science, health and social care, leisure and tourism, media studies, social sciences, psychology and citizenship.