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Ethnic-minority trainees struggle with tests

TRAINEE teachers from ethnic-minority groups are more likely to fail compulsory tests in literacy, numeracy and computer skills.

The basic skills tests have been criticised for discriminating against minorities. The Teacher Training Agency, which manages the tests, insists it monitors them and that an external expert considers them fair.

The figures for 2001-02 show that only 78.3 per cent of non-white trainees passed the computer-based numeracy test after two attempts, compared to 93.6 per cent of white colleagues. In literacy, the results were 83.1 to 94.8 per cent; in computer skills the difference was less at 92.4 to 98.3 per cent. Just over 98 per cent of all trainees eventually passed numeracy, 98.9 per cent literacy and 99.1 per cent the ICT test. Trainees can resit tests an unlimited number of times but must pass all three to start induction.

Of 26,625 trainees who took literacy tests, up to September 6 last year, 1,891 (7.1 per cent) were non-white, and English was not the first language of 1,365 (5.1 per cent).

Those without English as their mother tongue can apply to take an adapted test. They usually get 25 per cent more time to do the questions.

The report also shows men are more likely to pass numeracy, though women outdo them in literacy. Older candidates (aged 35 or over) are better at literacy but struggle with computing.

Meanwhile, researchers from Paisley and Surrey Roehampton universities will next week highlight the Government's failure to break down by race those who pass the performance pay threshold assessment for teachers.

They also claim that ministers are failing to carry out equal opportunities monitoring of the advanced skills teacher programme.

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