Unfair pressure of trainee tests

1st June 2001 at 01:00
INSISTING that new teachers pass a mental numeracy test to qualify is like requiring driving test candidates to change a car wheel in under a minute. The skills tested are useful, but certainly not essential.

Teachers do not need to be Carol Vordermans. Teaching skills and an understanding of the subject are far more important. I teach technology, and, when lessons involve calculations, I will have worked out the correct answers and routes to wrong answers in advance. When sorting out exam marks out of lesson-time I have the benefit of a calculator and time to check my calculations.

Previously GCSE maths at C or better was an entry requirement to teacher training. Does this no longer count? Or is this an official admission that standards have slipped? This level of ability served well in the past.

If there really has to be a test would it not be better to have it at the start rather than the end of the course? And if this tes is so important then surely all teachers should have to pass it? However, this would not be a vote-winner.

The group hardest hit by this new requirement are those who are fully numerate but cannot work well under exam pressure. It is even more unfair for those who started their training before this new requirement came into effect. The pressure on them to pass is immense, as their new careers are in doubt. Schools make many concessions to pupils who have problems performing well in public exams so that they can show their true ability. The Department for Education and Employment makes none to teachers. David Blunkett would fail this test.

The tests will put off perfectly good potential teachers. Surely this is not needed at the moment. Of course for those who struggled with the online threshold forms this latest DFEE mismanagement will come as no great surprise.

Chris Pryor

7 Astley Road, Chorley, Lancashire


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