Don't scrap trainee tests

25th June 2004 at 01:00
I disagree with the anonymous author who opposes the skills tests for trainee teachers "Who's failing whom?" (TES, June 4).

As a student teacher about to complete a PGCE, I am required to pass the tests. Whilst agreeing with your writer about the challenge the tests pose, I thoroughly believe in maintaining them.

We ought to consider any subject (such as religious education, which the author teaches), as a starting point for a holistic learning journey.

The author sees little point in proving his numeracy given that hisher subject is Religious Education. This is a somewhat blinkered approach.

Whatever our age or subject range, we must be able to support basic skills, and so to fully educate our young people to make the most of their life.

Although thrilled to see that the author of this article obviously has an excellent academic background, I am disturbed to hear that he or she has difficulties with basic numeracy. The significant success of this tale is that the student teacher was able to improve their basic mathematics skills and pass the test.

We should be asking why they were not supported earlier, rather than questioning the appropriateness of the tests themselves.

The author makes an excellent point about the test bearing little relation to a real-life situation in many senses, particularly regarding the lack of similarity between the test desktop, and a standard Windows desktop found in schools.

During recent pilots of the tests, students such as myself were invited to comment on the tests. This issue was raised, and hopefully designers will listen to us.

However, regarding the content of the tests, I would argue that most pupils expect their teacher to be able to spell a word, or answer a mental arithmetic problem immediately, rather than after 18 seconds.

Maths skills are needed by all teachers in their professional lives.

Numeracy is for all of us, not just maths teachers. So, those who feel strongly that we should abandon the tests, please consider why you feel this way. Is it the test which is the problem, or the skills of those sitting them?

Where should we channel our energies? Into abandoning the tests, or enabling those who find them difficult to be successful?

Fiona Reid Fareham Hants

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