Ordeal of a race against the clock

4th May 2001 at 01:00
When student teacher Joanna Wendholt took her numeracy skills test for the third time, she failed by just one point. It was the last straw.

She has decided to teach abroad after completing her BEd this summer, and not to take up her final chance of passing the test and getting qualified teacher status before then.

Yet her tutors at Brighton university consider her a strong student. She was rated satisfactory by inspectors visiting a school during one of her teaching placements.

And she has received several thousands of pounds of extra financial support from the Government because she wants to teach a shortage subject: religious education.

She passed her literacy test first time, but believes the numeracy test does not allow students enough time to answer the questions, which include analysis of pupil results and data-handling exercises. All teacher training students need at least a C in GCSE maths and English before they are accepted on a couse, and, since 1998, in science.

The 21-year-old, from Surrey said: "In teaching practice, you would never have only two minutes to look through statistics or tables.

"You would spend more time than that before you used it in front of a class or meeting, and that is what's so ludicrous.

"It seems quite ridiculous, when the Government is saying we have such a shortage of teachers, that they will not allow me to teach. Of course I should be literate and numerate, I have no issue with being of a certain standard, but I have proved that already, before the course and during it. I have taken the tests three times and the pressure is just getting more and more intense. If I had failed all four tests already, I would have no motivation to carry on with the degree.

"I've made the decision to graduate without qualified teacher status because I'm going to teach abroad. I might not be able to teach, ever, in England. It's an absolute waste."

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