Should teachers have to take tougher tests before they qualify?

(544 Posts)
Solopower1 Fri 26-Oct-12 11:53:53
Solopower1 Fri 26-Oct-12 12:00:04

The arguments for appear to be to raise the standards and status of the profession.

The arguments against:

'Association of Teachers and Lecturers past president Julia Neal said: "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 ... 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." '

Labour's alternatives:

'Shadow schools minister Kevin Brennan said Labour supported efforts to raise the quality and status of teachers, but that other measures were needed.

"We need more high flying applicants, and Labour has set out plans through our New Deal for Teachers to expand schemes like Teach First, improve training and on the job development and incentivise bright graduates to teach in less well off communities ..." '

Katisha Fri 26-Oct-12 12:14:25

Unqualified teachers are not the same thing as teachers who are weak in maths and literacy. Two different problems. Both need addressing.

But having done a PGCE myself I don't think the fact that some schools appoint people who then train on the job is necessarily a bad thing, as long as they are strong in their subject and strong in their motivation.

You don't learn all that much about the nitty gritty of teaching during the course, IME. You get that actually doing it.

LaVolcan Fri 26-Oct-12 12:48:05

When Gove talks about doing maths without a calculator I think he is being a fool. No serious science student can operate without one - unless he wants people to go back to using books of log tables, which included sines, cosines and tangents as well.

rabbitstew Fri 26-Oct-12 12:49:06

I would hope most primary level maths could be done without a calculator.

Sillybillypoopoomummy Fri 26-Oct-12 12:51:18

How can someone who only has a C at GCSE (the last time I looked that was the grade needed for teacher training in the core subjects so could have changed) teach someone to get an A?? Teaching needs to be something that attracts the brightest of people, so I agree about the need to keep them there, but they have to be brightest to start with.

am sure someone is going to yell at me for that

BrittaPerry Fri 26-Oct-12 12:51:47

Teachers seem to be such a lottery. The vast majority that I meet are dedicated and skilled, but I also know a couple of qualified teachers who don't know basic things and don't even know how to look them up.

When my sister graduated, some of her friends had to go to a graduation ceremony later in the year as they were still retaking the basic skills tests, sometimes for the third or fourth time. That alarms me.

Ronaldo Fri 26-Oct-12 12:52:08

"We need more high flying applicants, and Labour has set out plans through our New Deal for Teachers to expand schemes like Teach First, improve training and on the job development and incentivise bright graduates to teach in less well off communities ..."

This is the real weakness of the whole scheme. It assumes " high flyers
a) want to teach
b) make good teachers
c) will stick it rather than using it as a stop gap until they can do a much more highly prized job.

It also assumes that there is a need for standards to be raised.

You wont get the best teachers in schools unless you start adderessing the real problems in classrooms Good teachers want to teach. Right now that is the last thing most of them can do - so they leave in droves or they move to the private sector or most often they dont come into teaching at all knowing there are jobs out there paying more and which are far more pleasant to do.

Until the hygeine factors of the job are addressed you wont attract the best candidates and all those intitives they do have in place ( including the new one) will probably turn most of them off IMHO.

Solopower1 Fri 26-Oct-12 12:53:19

If you have a C in Maths, how does that stop you from being qualified to teach German / Art / History, etc?

TiAAAAARGHo Fri 26-Oct-12 12:54:00

I would also hope primary maths can be done without a calculator.

I read last year about some trainees on the PGCE having to take the basic numeracy and literacy tests tens of times before managing to pass - and my SIL who is a teacher informs me that the tests are not actually difficult. I find that worrying and think that the standard of teachers should be higher. But then I am heavily influenced by someone I know who became a teacher and who stopped communicating with me the day I had to send him his own email back saying that I could not understand what he had written (half txt spk, half english, spellings not remotely like the words I thought he may possibly have been trying to us, no grammar).

TiAAAAARGHo Fri 26-Oct-12 12:55:28

*use

donnie Fri 26-Oct-12 12:58:53

I only have a 'C' in mathematics O level. However, I have an MA and teach Eng Lit and Eng Lang to A level and also do some lit A level/undergrad tutoring on the side.
I make no apologies for being lousy at maths because I am shit hot in my subject.

BrittaPerry Fri 26-Oct-12 12:59:12

I agree that interpersonal skills are just as important, but I want someone who loves learning and has solid basic skills teaching my child.

My sister works really long hours, sorts out all kinds of extra services for her pupils, helps them turn from scared and traumatised children with no english into confident, literate and numerate children and manages to be bith terrifyingly strict and loved by her pupils. She has wanted to be a teacher since her early teens, volunteering at after school clubs and summer schools and has moved from the suburban area where we grew up to a very troubled part of London to head up a year group in a huge school. She finds time on top of that to study for extra qualifications in special needs.

My friend became a teacher because it was the only course that would take her and let her do performance art. She doesn't like noise, can't keep control and has never read a book she didn't have to.

Yet, when your child is in school you have no way of knowing which type of teacher your child will get, and be stuck with for one of the precious few years of primary education.

BrittaPerry Fri 26-Oct-12 13:00:15

Being a specialised teacher is different. Being a primary school teacher needs rounded skills.

LaVolcan Fri 26-Oct-12 13:05:16

I agree that primary arithmetic should be do-able without a calculator, but nowhere in the link did I see that he was only talking about primary teachers.

I still think he has a stupid prejudice against calculators, which no serious scientist or applied mathematician can do without, (or alternatively a computer package to do the same.)

Numeracy is important, and using a calculator can be a tool to help some children arrive at numeracy.

But then, he is an English graduate, so it's not possible to judge how numerate he is.

rabbitstew Fri 26-Oct-12 13:11:16

Well, he doesn't seem interested in setting out any proof for any of his assertions, so I suspect he's more a stream of consciousness sort of person...

rabbitstew Fri 26-Oct-12 13:18:58

And perhaps he should consider the impact of simultaneously striving to make exams harder to pass at high grades and raising the bar for qualifications required to go into teaching.

Sillybillypoopoomummy Fri 26-Oct-12 13:31:49

obviously I meant that you need the good grades in the subject you are teaching :-) no offence intended. However, I think Gove is on the right lines. He is trying to raise standards, which after years and years of lowering them can only be a good thing. Yes, it is going to take time, and yes, there will be lots of issues to sort, (not least making teaching a more attractive career) but I think that raising standards is a jolly good start.

LaVolcan Fri 26-Oct-12 13:34:07

I don't think anyone disagrees with an attempt to raise standards. My feeling is that he hasn't the foggiest idea about the best way to do it, and is just shooting from the hip.

donnie Fri 26-Oct-12 13:39:25

Presumably this is the same Michael Gove who recently went on record to 'apologise to his teachers for being unteachable' ? If only they had had these tests in place back then!

Yet another initiative to add to all the other initiatives which don't actually help anyone.

I am lucky - I have a p/t job in a great school and have been here for years. I will stay, too. However, nothing on earth would induce me to enter the profession now as a new graduate. Wild horses would not drag me.

EvilTwins Fri 26-Oct-12 15:53:14

I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing, but I don't think that it will mean that teaching then attracts the "brightest and best". A simple search will tell you that the starting salary for a top employer is £29,000 whilst starting salary for teaching is just under £22,000. If you are a top maths graduate, who could go for a top city accountancy firm, or a teaching job, which are you going to go for? The government needs to make teaching more attractive in order to recruit and retain good people. Better pay, less crap. Teachers have been banging on about it for decades though, so I can't see it changing.

Prarieflower Fri 26-Oct-12 19:25:18

Sorry I disagree re salaries,very few jobs out there and I don't know any graduates who walk into 29K these days.

Teachers are on a jolly good wack before you even you factor in holidays,pay increases,pensions,PPA.

ninah Fri 26-Oct-12 19:29:18

you have a limit of 3 goes at the skills tests this year

Prarieflower Fri 26-Oct-12 19:30:46

The accountancy grad jobs I've seen in say Bristol start at 18K and said candidate will be studying for exams whilst working.

EvilTwins Fri 26-Oct-12 19:37:19

£29,000 is the average starting salary for a graduate employed by one of the top 100 companies (info online- put together by pwc) Don't start about holidays please- anyone who brings that in clearly has no idea how teachers' pay works.

My point was that a top maths graduate is more likely to take up a position with Deloittes or PWC than become a maths teacher. Gove needs to do something tangible, not just bang on about the "brightest and best".

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