Teacher training skills tests scrapped – why it’s a good thing
The DfE has just announced the scrapping of mandatory skills tests for aspiring teachers, replacing them with a system where trainees are ‘assured against a set of fundamental maths and English skills’ by the end of their training.
The move, welcomed by teacher training providers, will help to tackle teacher shortages, writes the Independent.
Previously, candidates who failed the test three times in a row were ‘locked out of training’ for two years before they could have another attempt. Last year, however, the government said trainees would be given unlimited attempts in a bid to ease the recruitment crisis.
Executive director of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT), Emma Hollis, praised the removal of the “outdated” tests.
“It is a known barrier to the profession and does not reflect the way we teach and assess children and therefore is not representative of how we want the profession to behave,” she said.
Hollis added that there may be fears the removal of the tests will be seen as “dumbing down” the profession, but she believes those fears would be “misplaced.”
General secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), Geoff Barton, noted how the tests were in addition to aspiring teachers needing a degree, plus a minimum grade 4/C in GCSE English and maths. “They are unnecessary and are a potential barrier to recruitment at a time when we have an acute shortage of teachers.”
Barton added how we need to be inspiring people to join the profession as opposed to putting them off, before calling the government's announcement “a step in the right direction.”
School standards minister Nick Gibb said the move is part of the government’s teacher recruitment and retention strategy aimed at reducing staffing shortages. A written statement from the minister explained that, from October, teacher training providers will take on the responsibility of making sure trainees meet the standards of literacy and numeracy required for the profession.
This move won’t just have implications in the UK. In an email, the Council of British International Schools (COBIS) believes it will improve access to Initial Teacher Training (ITT) as well as UK qualifications for aspiring teachers based in British international schools across the globe.
It explains how the tests can currently only be taken in UK-based test centres, or one of three centres in Europe. This presents a barrier for people wanting to gain a UK qualification whilst being based in an international school overseas.
This of course caused absurd problems for teachers who are forced to travel to the UK or one of the three countries to take the tests.
COBIS CEO Colin Bell said “it is vital we minimise barriers to entering the profession.” He added: “This announcement will make it easier for more talented individuals within the wider community of British international schools to gain a recognised qualification that will enable them to teach either in an international school or back in the UK.”