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Personality test to weed out the weakest

Psychometric assessments will determine trainees' suitability for the chalkface

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Psychometric assessments will determine trainees' suitability for the chalkface

Teacher training applicants in England are to be set psychometric tests to examine whether their personalities have the right blend of "empathy, communication and resilience" to survive a career in the profession.

The "diagnostic tool" is about to become the latest weapon - alongside standard interviews and work experience - to help universities spot students who are not cut out for the classroom.

A company appointed by the Training and Development Agency for Schools is writing the diagnostic tool for a pilot scheme, which will start in September. Such tools are favoured by many bluechip companies and have been backed, notably, by leading Scottish businessman Sir Tom Hunter, who helped fund the Scottish Teachers for a New Era programme at Aberdeen University (TESS February 15, 2008).

Graham Holley, chief executive of the TDA agency in England, announced the plans to members of the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee at Westminster after MPs said they were concerned about new teachers' lack of basic skills. "The academic entry levels are easy to measure," he said. "What is also important to becoming a good teacher is having resilience, communication skills and empathy with young people.

In 2006-07, 15 per cent of trainee student teachers in England dropped out. A further 13 per cent completed their training but failed to take up a teaching post - the equivalent of 8,000 potential newly-qualified teachers. A third of teachers south of the border leave the profession within five years.

James Noble-Rogers, the executive director of the Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers, said his members would be in favour of the pilot - as long as psychometric testing didn't become mandatory. "Universities are already good at assessing applicants and making judgments," he said. "In fact, they are inspected on it."

Chartered occupational psychologist Lea Brindle, who is employed by companies to administer the tests, costing pound;50-pound;100 per person, said they would need to be used in conjunction with an interview.

Psychology teacher Deb Gajic, chair of the Association for the Teaching of Psychology in England, said more research on the reasons people dropped out would be more useful than psychometric tests: "One of the major problems with the tests is that people see what they want to, and tests are hard to answer honestly if you want to give a certain impression."

Testing, testing - a psychometric-style question

The cat is a small carnivorous mammal that is often valued by humans for its companionship. The cat is a skilled predator and is known to hunt over 1,000 species for food. Cats use a variety of vocalisations and body language for communication, such as purring, mewing, hissing and growling. The cat is an intelligent mammal and can be trained to obey simple commands. Typically, a cat will weigh between 2.5kg and 7kg. Cats are extremely sensitive as they have highly-advanced hearing, eyesight, touch and taste receptors. People's belief that they are solitary is incorrect; they are highly social. This misconception is due to cats not having a social survival strategy ("pack mentality") like animals such as dogs. This means they look after their own needs, even when living in a group.

Q: Cats make good companions for humans:

A: True

B: False

C: Cannot say

Source: Aptitude Tests Online.

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