Letters extra: Numeracy Test doesn't add up

2nd March 2001 at 00:00

At a time when the shortage of secondary teachers is daily highlighted in the news the government appears to be putting obstacles in the way of getting and retaining them.

I refer to the Numeracy Test and the case of my daughter Valerie. This is a Maths test which was introduced in 1999 and which all new teachers must now pass before they are considered to be qualified.

It consists of 28 questions which have to be done in 45 minutes. The Numeracy Test was arbitrarily introduced part way through the intensive teacher training course Valerie was undertaken at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Valerie graduated from De Montford University in 1998 with a II(i) Honours degree in English. She then did a TESOL which enabled her to teach English as a foreign language and spent two months in Poland.

She did a teacher training course at Manchester Metropolitan University and last September started teaching at St James' High School, Cheadle Hulme, Stockport.

She has received nothing but constant praise from those observing her lessons. The head and her mentors at her school are thoroughly supportive of her situation. I quote from the most recent comments: "A well-planned, well-organised and extremely impressive lesson!"

Although she has settled down well, thoroughly enjoys her work and has proved to be an excellent teacher she is now in danger of having to give it all up because of the Numeracy Test.

Valerie has always had difficulty with the speed required to complete maths exams. At GCSE she got AB for every subject except a C in Maths. She has so far failed the Numeracy Test twice, a situation which is understandably extremely stressful and is upsetting her whole approach to her new career.

She can do most of the questions in the test but not in the time allowed. She has engaged a Maths tutor who agrees that the time limit is the problem. Is it really sensible to lose good teachers in this way? Surely five years training to become an English teacher should be more important than the time limit in the Numeracy Test.

Isn't there some other way of demonstrating and validating numeracy skills?

Peter R Urquhart
The Old Waggon
47 Marple Road
Charlesworth
Derbyshire
SK13 5DE

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