QTS skills tests to be scrapped Watch

Sceptical_John
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Exclusive in this weeks schoolsweek so can't link to it yet.

What a big waste of time and money all that was.
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Tolgarda
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What? Really? I wonder what they will replace it with. I'm only 17, but I'm an aspiring teacher that wants to eventually study a PGCE. This is most interesting.
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SarcAndSpark
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The link is here:
https://schoolsweek.co.uk/qts-skills...o-be-scrapped/

It doesn't sound like anything has been officially announced yet, which is probably why it's not being widely publicised.

The plan to replace it with individual unis setting their own tests sounds good in theory- as hopefully it'll be less hassle for candidates. However, if they're individual tests set by unis, there may be less chance to practice them and I wonder what will happen if candidates fail? I could see this actually becoming more of a barrier to some candidates if it's not managed well.
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Sceptical_John
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
The link is here:
https://schoolsweek.co.uk/qts-skills...o-be-scrapped/

It doesn't sound like anything has been officially announced yet, which is probably why it's not being widely publicised.

The plan to replace it with individual unis setting their own tests sounds good in theory- as hopefully it'll be less hassle for candidates. However, if they're individual tests set by unis, there may be less chance to practice them and I wonder what will happen if candidates fail? I could see this actually becoming more of a barrier to some candidates if it's not managed well.
That seems unlikely to me as the point in scrapping is the desperate need for more teachers. My guess is it will just be a judgement by the ITT provider if you are capable or not.
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Sahmed.
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I've got my tests next week I hope they scrap it before then 😂
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by Sceptical_John)
That seems unlikely to me as the point in scrapping is the desperate need for more teachers. My guess is it will just be a judgement by the ITT provider if you are capable or not.
Just because something's intended to work in a certain way doesn't always mean that it will.

ITT providers have a range of priorities, not just getting as many people on the course as possible- they know that if they accept people who aren't really capable, they may well drop out, which isn't good for anyone. They also have their relationships with schools to consider- if they're sending in people who have basic issues with maths and English, then this has the potential to harm the uni long term.

I've seen people on this forum who've taken 5+ attempts to pass their skills tests. Lots of people also get tutoring or use books etc to help them pass. If there's no standardised test, and there's potentially no chance to practice this test, then I think a lot more people will struggle.

It may be that some providers will wave everyone through, but I don't think this will be true of all providers.
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04MR17
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The picture in the article sums up my face when I saw this. :laugh:

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04MR17
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Last year the DfE awarded a £15 million contract to PSI services to deliver the tests. The contract, which began on July 1, runs for three years. It is not yet known how quickly the DfE will scrap the tests.

Depending on how much money they want to waste it might not be any time soon. :emo:
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airfixfighter
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In Wales, we already don't sit these tests and sit them at the provider. At my uni, if you failed, you had a chance to resit.

However, you do need Bs in GCSE English and Maths in Wales.

Tbh, I think the whole thing's ridiculous. I understand the need for people to have english and maths skills, but everyone has to have at least a C - are they acknowledging the GCSEs aren't good enough by making everyone sit these tests?
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by airfixfighter)
In Wales, we already don't sit these tests and sit them at the provider. At my uni, if you failed, you had a chance to resit.

However, you do need Bs in GCSE English and Maths in Wales.

Tbh, I think the whole thing's ridiculous. I understand the need for people to have english and maths skills, but everyone has to have at least a C - are they acknowledging the GCSEs aren't good enough by making everyone sit these tests?
I think perhaps the issue is that for some applicants it's a long time since they sat their GCSEs- when I applied, it was 11 years since I'd done mine! Maths skills especially can deteriorate quite quickly, so someone who was able to just scrape a C maybe 10+ years ago might not be up to scratch anymore.

FWIW, I don't believe the tests have that much value, and they can be a hassle to arrange/sit, but I do think it's also important to have floor standards for teachers. I don't think the answer to the lack of teachers is to lower standards.
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Sceptical_John
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
I think perhaps the issue is that for some applicants it's a long time since they sat their GCSEs- when I applied, it was 11 years since I'd done mine! Maths skills especially can deteriorate quite quickly, so someone who was able to just scrape a C maybe 10+ years ago might not be up to scratch anymore.

FWIW, I don't believe the tests have that much value, and they can be a hassle to arrange/sit, but I do think it's also important to have floor standards for teachers. I don't think the answer to the lack of teachers is to lower standards.
agree with everything you say there. I guess with the predicted secondary pupil bulge coming in the next couple of years they have two options. 1. Lower standards 2. Pay more money.
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by Sceptical_John)
agree with everything you say there. I guess with the predicted secondary pupil bulge coming in the next couple of years they have two options. 1. Lower standards 2. Pay more money.
I'd also suggest 3. Make workloads more manageable and look after teacher well-being as an option.

Personally, I think retention of experienced teachers is more important that encouraging lots of new starters into the profession, to have them drop out of the PGCE, or NQT years. The PGCE is bloody hard, and making it easier to get a place won't guarantee people cope with the course and finish! Students teachers who need a lot of support can also be a drain on schools/departments.

If it were down to me, I'd take a 3 way approach:

1. Targeted recruitment especially for shortage subjects, especially giving university pupils in these subjects the chance to go into schools and find out a bit about what teaching is like.
2. Retention bonuses (as seen in maths) after 2/3/5/10 years, especially in shortage subjects. Even better- pay these retrospectively to existing teachers.
3. Make teacher workloads more manageable, especially in the early career years (I think the new NQT program proposed for 2020 may help with this a bit) and look after teacher wellbeing in schools. This includes not making huge sweeping curriculum changes, as this was a final straw for many experienced teachers I think.

I think the DofE needs to really think not just about having warm bodies in front of classes, but about making sure there are the future heads of department, heads of year, and SLT candidates being nurtured in schools and being able to progress their careers.
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sp00kymcflukey
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In all honesty, lifting the ban on attempts is generous and should be all any prospective teacher needs. The tests aren't that difficult and even if you fail by one or two marks (you may have been unlucky) you are given unlimited attempts to try again. If you fail by more than a few marks, are you really the right person for the job? Teaching is a fast-paced job with the need for mental acuity to handle on the spot questions, behaviour and teaching and learning issues that arise during a normal lesson. If you're not quick enough to pass the tests, neither numerate nor literate enough, why try and enter a profession that is by its nature rooted in those things?
Maybe controversial to some but we don't want just anyone educating our future generation.
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StudenO
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I would agree. This opinion only tends to be unpopular with those struggling with the tests or those who have a vested interest in more people passing them. In reality these tests should not be a barrier for any prospective teacher, an inconvenience I would agree, but as they are set to around a GCSE grade C they shouldn't be a barrier. Rather than looking for quick fixes to help address teacher shortages, other suggestions in this thread make much more sense:
1. Increase pay for existing teachers to help retention. Retention bonuses work well in many other sectors.
2. Increase pay in areas where there are the most shortages. People with good Maths and Physics degrees need to be attracted into teaching and regardless of what anyone says, money is a major motivator which is why many of these graduates end up working finance.
3. Reducing paper work exercises is one that always comes up as this would enable teachers more class time which is generally what they want to do and why they went into teaching.
(Original post by sp00kymcflukey)
In all honesty, lifting the ban on attempts is generous and should be all any prospective teacher needs. The tests aren't that difficult and even if you fail by one or two marks (you may have been unlucky) you are given unlimited attempts to try again. If you fail by more than a few marks, are you really the right person for the job? Teaching is a fast-paced job with the need for mental acuity to handle on the spot questions, behaviour and teaching and learning issues that arise during a normal lesson. If you're not quick enough to pass the tests, neither numerate nor literate enough, why try and enter a profession that is by its nature rooted in those things?
Maybe controversial to some but we don't want just anyone educating our future generation.
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Sceptical_John
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Those arguing that if you can't pass the tests then you shouldn't be a teacher what drama or other arts? Why does it matter how good your mental arithmetic is for these subjects?

What scrapping them will do is allow common sense to return and put a semblance of trust back into ITT providers.
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StudenO
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Whether someone is teaching History or the arts they still need a basic level of numeracy and literacy to fulfill their professional duties. If it is left up to teacher training providers to provide non standardised tests it will lead to major inconsistencies. Also there is an inherent problem with enabling ITT's to have full autonomy over the selection process as their funding is dictated by the number of places they fill, so the emphasis is on quantity, not quality so the consequential drop in standards would be inevitable.
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by Sceptical_John)
Those arguing that if you can't pass the tests then you shouldn't be a teacher what drama or other arts? Why does it matter how good your mental arithmetic is for these subjects?

What scrapping them will do is allow common sense to return and put a semblance of trust back into ITT providers.
Secondary school teachers are expected to cover other subjects as part of their job- I'm not saying that means they need to be experts on everything, but it's helpful in a lot of subjects to be able to do basic maths. In smaller subjects, which arts based ones often are, you can end up being the only teacher/HoD quite quickly in your career. To be an effective HoD, you need to understand data/statistics, which is what the second part of the maths tests focuses on.

I'd argue the mental maths test also tests your ability to respond under pressure- an important skill for any teacher.

Also, once you have QTS, you're nominally qualified to teach anything to any age group- so a drama teacher could theoretically move into primary school and therefore be required to teach maths.

I'm not saying 100% that the skills tests are the right way to test these things, but I don't think it's valid to say that there are teachers who don't need these skills. They're really not hard tests.

There's already a lot of trust in ITT providers- they interview, and are allowed to pick and choose whoever they want above some (fairly low) floor standards.

I don't believe abolishing these tests will- long term- place any more teachers in classrooms. The lack of teachers is due to fundamental problems in the education system, and abolishing these tests arguably just shows a lack of respect for the skills needed to be a teacher AND a lack of understanding of the ITT process.
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04MR17
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(Original post by StudenO)
Whether someone is teaching History or the arts they still need a basic level of numeracy and literacy to fulfill their professional duties. If it is left up to teacher training providers to provide non standardised tests it will lead to major inconsistencies. Also there is an inherent problem with enabling ITT's to have full autonomy over the selection process as their funding is dictated by the number of places they fill, so the emphasis is on quantity, not quality so the consequential drop in standards would be inevitable.
What you have identified is a problem with the magnetised nature of HE, universities are lacking funds and when they're being told by the government to take more in why should they stop?

You describe inconsistency as though it's bad. Why?
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Sceptical_John
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
Secondary school teachers are expected to cover other subjects as part of their job- I'm not saying that means they need to be experts on everything, but it's helpful in a lot of subjects to be able to do basic maths. In smaller subjects, which arts based ones often are, you can end up being the only teacher/HoD quite quickly in your career. To be an effective HoD, you need to understand data/statistics, which is what the second part of the maths tests focuses on.

I'd argue the mental maths test also tests your ability to respond under pressure- an important skill for any teacher.

Also, once you have QTS, you're nominally qualified to teach anything to any age group- so a drama teacher could theoretically move into primary school and therefore be required to teach maths.

I'm not saying 100% that the skills tests are the right way to test these things, but I don't think it's valid to say that there are teachers who don't need these skills. They're really not hard tests.

There's already a lot of trust in ITT providers- they interview, and are allowed to pick and choose whoever they want above some (fairly low) floor standards.

I don't believe abolishing these tests will- long term- place any more teachers in classrooms. The lack of teachers is due to fundamental problems in the education system, and abolishing these tests arguably just shows a lack of respect for the skills needed to be a teacher AND a lack of understanding of the ITT process.
Your last point is simply empirically false. In the article it states 3500 teachers failed the tests - many of these would have already had ITT offers. Obviously, it's not a game changer in terms of recruitment but its probably going to get an extra 500 a year.
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