Entry tests for trainee teachers to be toughened in bid to raise standards
Entry tests for those wanting to train as teachers will become more difficult in an attempt to increase teaching standards. The decision comes after a panel of head teachers and education experts found the current exams, established in 2003, were too easy.
The current exams are taken towards the end of a teacher’s training and have a 98 per cent pass rate. From autumn, the pass grade will be increased and trainees will be limited to only two resits per paper.
In addition, new exams will be introduced with harder tasks. This will include word identification being replaced by longer written exercises, and simple maths by more complicated arithmetic and algebra. The candidates will need a score equivalent to a GCSE grade B to pass.
From September 2013, trainee teachers will have to pass the tougher exam before even attending a training course and those who fail three resit attempts will not be allowed to re-take the test for a further two years.
Education Secretary Michael Gove defended the new “rigorous selection” of trainee teachers: “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.”
However, teaching unions have voiced criticism that the new exams place too much emphasis on those new to teaching, rather than the real problem of retaining current teachers in the field. Considering that over 10,000 teachers have recently left the profession, unions argue that teachers should be given more support and training once working.
It is also feared that new, tougher exams could cast doubt on the abilities of existing teachers, damaging already low morale in the education sector following criticisms that GCSEs have been too easy.