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What keeps me awake at night

Teachers are being put to the test - but why?

Teachers are being put to the test - but why?

I retired from full-time teaching almost three years ago and I politely discourage the overtures of supply agencies, so my sleep should no longer be troubled by thoughts of school and education.

Sadly, this is not always the case. Although I am determined to pursue other interests, friends and family know of my past and I still get enquiries about tuition and coaching.

My first inclination is always to turn down such opportunities but I didn't feel I could say no to a trainee teacher who was worrying about taking the literacy test for her teaching qualification.

I was not surprised that such a test could cause tremors. If I had been forced to do a numeracy exam before qualifying, I'm sure I would have been equally nervous.

I remember the apprehension of colleagues when they were due to complete whole-school training on literacy and numeracy. "But I can't spell for toffee" and "I'm hopeless at maths" were common cries. We all have strengths and weaknesses.

However, it is natural to expect teachers to have sufficient skills in literacy and numeracy. And this is what has been causing my sleeplessness. Why are such tests necessary at this stage?

If trainee teachers need to be tested prior to qualification, what does it say about their GCSEs and the entry requirements for teacher training courses? Do the assessments for these programmes lack sufficient rigour? Or are trainee teachers' qualifications just smoke and mirrors?

If this is the case, it raises questions about the integrity of national standards.

I should not be the only one having sleepless nights.

John Irving Clarke is a retired teacher from Wakefield

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