Tougher tests for teachers

A teacher in front of her class
A teacher in front of her class

Would-be teachers will have to pass harder tests to join the profession from next year.

Trainee teachers face tougher exams in English, mathematics and reasoning, after the government branded the current exams too easy.

Education Secretary Michael Gove says the ‘rigorous selection’ of trainees was key to raising standards.

But Kate Aspin, senior lecturer in education at Huddersfield University and ex-primary school deputy headteacher, said it was not easy to get on a teacher training course in the first place.

“The process is far more rigorous than it was 20 years ago – you need two As and a B just to get on an undergraduate course,” she said.

Dawn Broadhead, from Liversedge, is training to be a teacher at Bradford University and is on placement at Thornhill Community Science College. She said the current tests were ‘pretty straightforward’.

Latest figures show that around 98 per cent of trainees passed the current tests, but new guidelines will see pass marks raised in English and mathematics and calculators banned.

“You can have someone who is fantastic at A-level maths but you’ve got to be able to get down to the child’s level and help them progress,” Mrs Aspin said.

“It’s no good being able to do long division if you can’t explain it so they will understand. Harder tests may put some people off, but that may not be a bad thing, it will leave the committed people who are dedicated to putting pupils first.”

But she said tougher exams would not necessarily improve standards in the long term.

Alison Ryan, education policy adviser at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “If trainee teachers already have a GCSE grade B or above in English and maths, why test their English and maths again, which just adds additional costs and bureaucracy?”