Literacy tests for trainee teachers show that those who can't spell, teach
Thousands of trainee teachers are struggling to pass literacy tests that require them to spell words such as anxiety, relieved and mathematical.
More than 11,000 trainee teachers, just over a quarter of the annual intake, failed to pass the literacy test last year at their first attempt, an increase of 16 per cent since 2001.
The findings have prompted concern that new teachers may be struggling with the basic skills they will be charged with passing on to pupils.
David Laws, the Liberal Democrat schools spokesman, said: “Spelling is a key basic skill. We need a renewed focus on getting the basics right.
“As the number of applicants being accepted on to teaching courses rises, we need to be sure that this isn't being coupled with a decline in standards. The existing minimum qualifications for people wanting to become teachers are too low.”
Mr Laws said that the economic slowdown should be used as an opportunity to promote teaching as a profession and attract top graduates.
The tests, which are taken online by students training for primary and secondary schools, are designed to raise standards in the profession. Trainees can take them as many times as they want.
Although teachers must have good GCSE passes in English, maths and science and a degree to work in English state schools, the tests were introduced in 2000/01 amid concerns that teacher training did not provide a sufficient grounding in the basics. The figures, obtained by the Liberal Democrats in a Commons written answer, show that the failure rate in numeracy has also risen since the tests were first introduced. Last year 20,000 trainee teachers failed to pass the numeracy test at the first attempt. On average, around half the students had to take the test twice before passing. In ICT, 4,000 failed the test first time.
Research this year from the Spelling Society found that more than half of adults could not spell embarrassed or millennium. A quarter struggled with definitely, accidentally and separate.
The survey found that Britons blame the current state of poor spelling on parents and teachers, with three out of four people believing that spelling among children is worse now than it was ten years ago.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families said that the quality of teacher training had never been higher.
“The vast majority of trainee teachers pass all three tests first time round and the bottom line is that no one can start teaching until they have passed them,” the department said. “More top-quality teachers than ever before are entering the profession from industry, the public sector and universities, thanks to highest-ever pay levels, golden hellos, better behaviour and discipline, and slashed paperwork.”
The Training and Development Agency for Schools said that the average pass rate across all three subjects was more than 83 per cent.
Practice trainee teacher tests can be found at QTS - Teacher skill tests; literacy, numeracy and ITC - TDA
TRY THE TESTS YOURSELF
1 Children’s answers to my questions were most ___________.
2 The project had to be completed ___________.
3 The Headteacher ____________ welcomed the new teachers into the school.
4 These ___________ changes are to be introduced from next term.
5 Pupils were asked to leave any ___________ items behind.