Who can become a teacher?
People who want to become teachers will be taking more rigorous entry tests including tougher tests in English, mathematics and reasoning starting September 2013.
The argument has been that the current entry tests are too easy.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said, “These changes will mean that parents can be confident that we have the best teachers coming into our classrooms. Above all, it will help ensure we raise standards in our schools and close the attainment gap between the rich and poor.”
The new exams include more complex mathematical problems without the help of calculators. This might be seen as extremely curious, since the calculator is the simplest bit of equipment to be found under the control of every person working in the UK from the shop assistant to the salesperson, from the street cleaner to the managing director of a company.
In English, as now, candidates will be tested on spelling, grammar and punctuation – an approach which will discriminate against dyslexics – just as the maths test discriminates against dyscalculics, even if they are not teaching a subject with any maths in it.
The abstract reasoning test will take the form of on-screen and verbal tests to assess the candidates’ ability to solve problems, recognise patterns, think laterally, evaluate and analyse issues. Anyone wishing to train to be a teacher must pass these tests before attending a training course. Only two re-sits will be permitted before the student is banned from taking the test for two years.
But what about retaining teachers? At present not that many schools have a dedicated policy to keeping teachers in the school, and indeed in a forthcoming book “The Efficient School” I argue that by placing much more emphasis on helping teachers and administrators in the school from the moment they arrive schools could save huge amounts of money, by not having to readvertise posts after someone leaves quickly, and by not having to start the induction process all over again.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers past president Julia Neal agreed saying: “If you’re going to raise standards it’s not just about recruiting teachers in the first place, it is actually keeping them and retaining them.
“I do think that sometimes there’s a message going out which is really just undermining the profession. Are we saying that teachers at the moment aren’t good enough because they haven’t passed these tests?
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said “It is however surprising that Michael Gove is showing such interest in the entry requirements for teacher training courses, while at the same time advocating that schools should be free to employ unqualified teachers.
“The real issue is the training and support that teachers are given once they have entered into teaching training.”
Shadow schools minister Kevin Brennan said “the government continues to insult teachers and damage morale with its extreme policies and out of touch rhetoric. Michael Gove called teachers ‘whingers’ and 10,000 teachers have left the profession. That is putting school standards at risk.”