Many new primary teachers lack confidence in teaching 3Rs

Tes reports that a large minority of new primary teachers in Scotland cannot say they are confident in their ability to teach key areas of the curriculum such as maths, reading and writing, new research suggests.

The Scottish government has found that many primary probationers lack confidence in teaching literacy and numeracy. Secondary probationers generally feel more confident in literacy in their subject, but have a similar lack of confidence in numeracy.

Developing resources is also “problematic” for probationer teachers, who find it hard to create “differentiated resources to meet the needs of all learners”, the study shows. And the teachers responsible for supporting probationers – referred to in the report as “probationer supporters” – highlighted probationers’ ability to teach reading and phonics as “an area of concern”.

The Gathering Views on Probationer Teachers’ Readiness to Teach report – which included focus groups and an online survey completed by about 10 per cent of Scotland’s 2,386 2015-16 probationers – was compiled as part of the government’s efforts to monitor how the education system is performing via the National Improvement Framework. It was published in December.

The findings come after young teachers gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee last year, suggesting that some lack the numeracy skills to teach 11-year-olds at “a reasonable standard”.

However, Professor Sue Ellis – a literacy expert based in the University of Strathclyde’s school of education – argued that asking probationer teachers how confident they felt about teaching key areas of the curriculum was a poor way to measure competence. She said: “You can be confident about something simply because you don’t recognise how complicated it is. What we need is a direct measure of impact – what progress do children in the classes of probationer teachers make?”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “Through our new education reforms, we will take steps to ensure initial teacher education prepares students to enter the profession with consistently well-developed skills to teach key areas such as literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.”

Read more Many new primary teachers lack confidence in teaching 3Rs

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