We deserve better from agency;Letter;News and opinion

26th November 1999 at 00:00
I FULLY endorse the view of Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, that the maths test for trainees scheduled for the June 1 2000 should be abandoned, but I think his letter is too charitable to the Teacher Training Agency (TES, November 12).

Given its role in education, the public is entitled to expect any measures it imposes on trainees to be well thought through and impeccably implemented.

One would have expected to see a detailed syllabus for the proposed numeracy test. One would have expected to see the proper timetabling of teaching negotiated with the training institutions.

Instead there is no syllabus, only the promise of a few sample papers in February 2000 and a few vague indications in the booklet National Skills Tests: A Guide for Trainee Teachers.

The test is particularly unfair on post-graduate students, who in most cases will have done no mathematics since the age of 16 - five years ago. The situation for mature students is likely to be worse.

If a school or training institution had imposed such a poorly conceived scheme on its students, it would have been pilloried by the Office for Standards in Education. Estelle Morris, minister for school standards (sic!), should tell her staff at the Teacher Training Agency to get their act together.

Until the agency comes up with a proper scheme, the poor trainees should be told to watch "Countdown".

RJ Cox, 36 The Fairway, Alsager, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

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