Calculated plan?

9th June 2000 at 01:00
WE will probably never know whether providing candidates with a surreptitious opportunity to check their mental arithmetic answers with a calculator in this week's numeracy tests for new teachers was an oversight or a cunning plan on the part of the Teacher Training Agency to keep up recruitment. Either way it has done nothing for the already dubious status of these tests.

The real mystery remains: why on earth was it thought necessary to rush them in this June ahead of next year's literacy and information technology tests?

Estelle Morris's justification was that an Office for Standards in Educaton report showed trainees varied in their understanding of how to use comparative data to set targets. But how did a rapid-fire mental arithmetic quiz assist with that?

This test diminishes rather than enhances professional confidence and status.

And the injustice of introducing an extra hurdle after they had signed up for training has outraged a cohort of new teachers already miffed about missing the training salaries that begin next September. But it achieved one thing: ensuring that most start life in the classroom with an unhelpful distrust of all Government- inspired initiatives.

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