Will Estels's new broom sweep away numeracy tests

15th June 2001 at 01:00
At this time of the year I can usually enjoy seeing our PGCE students reviewing and sharing their experiences over the year and preparing for their new jobs in September. This year is different; the shadow of the skills tests hangs over what should be a time of celebration of student achievement.

No one will deny that teachers should be literate and numerate and able to use these skills in their professional lives, but these ill-conceived and incompetently managed computerised tests are not the way to achieve this.

The change in the percentage of students passing the numeracy test at their first attempt from 97 per cent last year to around 70 per cent this year should indicate to the Department for Education that something is seriously wrong.

Another difference this year has been the number of messages from hadteachers desperately looking for NQTs to employ for September. What will be their response - and that of parents - when they find that up to 10 per cent of the enthusiastic, competent new teachers they have employed will not be qualified to start work because of these tests?

To impose tests such as these at the end of training is not just unwise in terms of teacher recruitment, it is also abusive to the individual students who have worked so hard to qualify as teachers. While most will pass, I suspect that many will now join the profession with deep suspicion of government initiatives.

I can only hope that the new Education Secretary will have the courage to scrap these disastrous tests.

Alan McLean, PGCE secondary programme director, Rolle school of education, University of Plymouth, Exmouth

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