New tougher tests for trainee teachers


Prospective teachers will have to sit new tougher tests in English, mathematics and reasoning before they can start training, the government says.
The changes – recommended by an independent review group of leading head teachers and education experts – would see calculators banned from the new mathematics tests and pass marks in English and mathematics raised.
This comes as part of the Government's efforts to raise standards in the education system. It will also help Britain compete and thrive in the global race and spread privilege across our country.
Trainee teachers currently have to pass basic skills tests in literacy and numeracy. Until this September, they took the tests only towards the end of their training course and were allowed unlimited re-sits.
Latest figures show that around 98 per cent of trainees passed the tests, calling into question the level of challenge. Candidates have already been limited to two re-sits for each test from this September, and the pass mark has been raised.

The Skills Test Review Panel has now recommended that:

  • the current tests are strengthened with tougher questions and approaches – for example, banning calculators and testing candidates’ use of English through their writing of continuous prose;
  • the pass mark for the English and mathematics tests is raised again, to the equivalent of GCSE grade B; anda new test for verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning is introduced, recognising that good teachers need to respond quickly and appropriately to often unpredictable demands.

Candidates will have to achieve separate passes in English, mathematics and reasoning in order to be able to start teacher training. The Review Panel also proposed that the new tests could be used alongside degree class as a factor in determining the level of bursary to which a trainee teacher would be entitled. The Government has today accepted the Review Panel’s recommendations in full.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said: "The evidence from around the world is clear – rigorous selection of trainee teachers is key to raising the quality and standing of the teaching profession.

"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 National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has backed the proposals, but warned that excellence in teaching is about more than academic ability.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said all teachers needed strong literacy skills and a good grasp of mathematics. "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."

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