Letters Extra: Skills for the next generation

15th November 2002 at 00:00

I write in response to the TES article "Failing the joined-up government challenge" regarding the content of the numeracy skills test for initial teacher trainees.

I feel that the author is missing the point of the test with his comments on how the questions relate to tasks that teachers might not do in the future.

The underlying skills and knowledge that the questions he chooses to use as examples test are fundamental to the understanding of number operations - dealing as they do with money, percentages, multi step calculations and data analysis.

It does not matter that the context of the questions relates to these particular tasks - the questions could be about running a market stall and they would still be valid as a test of numerical skill.

In answer to the question posed at the end of this article these tests exist to try and raise the levels of numeracy within the teaching workforce.

As a teacher of adult basic skills for a number of years, I know first-hand how poor numeracy skills can affect people's ability to deal with a range of everyday tasks.

I do not think that encouraging teacher trainees to develop their own skills in numeracy to support their pupils and so hopefully to avoid them becoming adults who struggle is in any way a bad thing.

Yes the tests have their critics - but are we really saying that we do not think our future teachers should be numerate?

Alison Gorf
Virginia Road

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