Sally Coates, chair of the panel which has proposed toughening tests for trainee teachers, explains why she is concerned about standards of literacy and numeracy among new teachers. This is from the Telegraph…
Teaching is once again becoming a coveted profession with some of the country’s best graduates now choosing this rewarding career. And as a headteacher I know we already have fantastic teachers in our classrooms.
We want to make sure that every child is taught by great teachers and we have to continue to raise the bar. That is what the best education systems in the world do – keep moving forward, keep improving.
I am concerned about standards of literacy and numeracy among new teachers. If our teachers can’t do basic maths, how can we expect our children to learn it?
The Government is responding to those concerns. It has today backed the Review Panel I led and is agreeing toughening up the current tests that trainee teachers must take. From next September, those wanting to become teachers will have to sit more challenging and rigorous tests in English, mathematics and reasoning before they can start their training.
No more calculators, no more easy questions we would expect 10-year-olds to answer in their sleep. More rigorous questions on algorithms and algebra, and testing spelling and grammar through writing in clear, fluent prose.
A new test for reasoning will help make sure we train teachers who can interpret a broad range of written material and data, and think quickly on their feet – skills every teacher needs to do the job successfully – regardless of what subject they teach.
Teachers with these skills inspire confidence among parents and pupils. After all, strong literacy skills are required beyond the classroom: parents expect their child’s report to be written clearly and free of spelling mistakes. And headteachers need to trust their teachers to write correctly for a range of audiences.
Some might argue that all trainee teachers currently have to pass basic tests in literacy and numeracy. But until this September, trainees only took the tests towards the end of their course and were allowed to take as many re-sits as it took them to pass. One in five failed them first time round.
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. Our children deserve the best and these new tests will help reinforce the central importance of high-quality education to the prosperity and well-being of the nation.