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Error in skills test led to prospective teachers being failed

DfE to offer compensation payment to candidates affected

teacher with kids

Schools minister Nick Gibb has said that more than 200 would-be teachers have been affected by an error in the skills test, which has to be passed in order to join the profession.

In a written ministerial statement, Mr Gibb said that in a review of the marking schemes for the skills test, the Standards and Testing Agency discovered an error in the marking scheme of one test – and that the error had been in place for at least 10 years.

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The statement says: "The error applies to a marking scheme for one of the literacy skills tests and has resulted in a small number of candidates failing their literacy test when they should have passed.

"The incorrect marking scheme for this test has been in operation for at least ten years. We know that just over 200 candidates were affected by the error between September 2017 and November 2018, approximately 150 of whom went on to pass their literacy test."

The skills tests are designed to ensure all teachers are competent in numeracy and literacy, regardless of their specialism.

Trainee teachers must pass the skills tests before they start their course of initial teacher training.

Mr Gibb said that payment would be offered to compensate candidates affected for any expenses they may have incurred in having to retake the test.

"It is regrettable that this error has prevented some candidates from progressing their applications to teacher training. My department is taking swift action to make sure that those affected are supported to progress their applications," the statement says.

Last year, the DfE changed the rules to allow unlimited resits for the literacy and numeracy skills tests, which had to be passed before anyone can enter initial teacher training.

Previously candidates had three attempts to pass the tests and, if they failed, they would be locked out of the system for two years.

But there were claims that the “lockout” period was preventing capable candidates from entering teaching and putting them under too much pressure on the final resit.


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