Test's negative results

16th June 2000 at 01:00
I HAVE just sat the numeracy test for trainee teachers, and am compelled to voice my objections.

As I understand it, these tests have been introduced to ensure the professional capabilities of all trainee-teachers. Presumably they are also designed to increase the public perception of the competency of new teachers, but subjecting students trained to degree- level to a patronising basic level maths test is not the way forward.

To undertake a postgraduate certificate in education you need to have achieved at least a grade C in GCSE maths. Surely by doing this you prove you are able to use and manipulate figures.

Furthermore, I do not believe that the test I have just sat in any way correlates to the mathematical ability required to pass a GCSE. If any actual ability had been required I would, perhaps, have found it less humiliating. But, the fact that the Government felt the need to test if I could work out a percentage or read a graph or even add and subtract leaves me with little confidence that they are actually trying to entice a better quality of graduate into the teaching profession.

The format of the test itself was also ill-conceived. The first part consisted of a mental arithmetic test durig which the use of calculators was not permitted. The answers, however, were written in the same booklet that contained the questions for which you could use a calculator. Therefore, there was nothing to stop you returning to your initial answers to check them. Anyone who fails the mental arithmetic test should be thoroughly ashamed if only for the lack of ingenuity they showed!

I feel that having to take and pass this test has undermined not only all the hard effort that I have made during my PGCE year but also the work that I was required to do in order to get a good degree.

I am sure that when I start as an English teacher in September, the skills that I demonstrated in the numeracy test will be extremely useful. It is impossible to predict when I may need to calculate the amount of sheet metal needed for each pupil in Year 8 to have two 5cm strips each!

However, the knowledge I have obtained through my teaching practice might be more useful. Certainly the hour I spent today completing the maths test would have been better spent developing that knowledge rather than being forced to play as a pawn in a piece of government propaganda.

Sarah Carter

Corpus Christi College


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