What keeps me awake at night

9th May 2014 at 01:00
Mental maths tests are driving me insane

It was made clear when I applied for a primary postgraduate certificate in education that I would have to pass two professional skills tests to be considered for a place.

These are taken at a nearby test centre, and that was where the first problem arose. The building has multiple uses, so I had to wait six weeks before I could take the tests.

There are two separate assessments: literacy and numeracy. As I expected, the literacy one - comprising spelling, grammar and punctuation - is challenging but also entirely necessary for a prospective teacher to pass.

However, the numeracy test - which includes a mental maths section in which questions must be answered within 18 seconds - is rather barbaric. I want to teach young children, not scholars with two PhDs to their names.

I could take as many practice tests as I desired, but tackling these could not be further from my mind at present, given the numerous essays and presentations I already have to complete and the dissertation I have to write for my degree.

I appreciate that these tests are a way to ensure that all individuals have an elementary understanding of key subjects. But with a minimum pass rate of 63 per cent and a charge of pound;20 per resit, the process is a stressful one.

In addition, if I don't pass the tests by the third attempt, I cannot take them again for another two years.

Considering that I have been a model student, achieving good grades throughout my education, is it really fair that one test could prevent me from becoming a teacher? And is it right to send the message to students that if you fail at something, you are punished and prevented from trying again?

I don't see why I need to have such a high level of numeracy to prove I can teach primary-level maths, and I fear that this test may prove a barrier for many, preventing great teachers from joining the profession.

Jaimee Baker is currently applying to start teacher training in the UK

Tell us what keeps you awake at night

Email jon.severs@tes.co.uk


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