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Maths equivalency test for PGCE

Discussion in 'NQTs and new teachers' started by bettinaboo, Sep 26, 2015.

  1. bettinaboo

    bettinaboo New commenter

    Hi all. I could really do with some good advice from someone as I am getting myself worked up into a bit of a nervous wreck. Four years ago I gave up a very lucrative career in retail training and development to go back to university and study to become a secondary school English teacher. I sat my access course to HE and achieved a distinction grade. I then did a degree in English Literature and Classical Studies and achieved First Class honours. I applied for my teacher training through Schools Direct for a SCITT salaried position as I am in no position to take another year off from work; adding to that I really think that hands on training is the best way to learn. I sat my professional skills literacy test and passed, however I had difficulty in passing my numeracy test. I failed the first time but then, after a month of non stop revision I passed my numeracy test. I passed my interview for SCITT, was interviewed for 5 different schools and was offered a position with all five. I chose the school that I had had experience days with as I absolutely fell in love with the school and was over the moon when they offered me the position. Now, here is my problem. I sat my GCSE's over 25 years ago. I have moved several times in that time and also worked abroad a number of times so my original certificates have been lost somewhere. Not a problem I hear you cry as I can get old copies through AQA (which is the exam board for the old SEG board). I applied and all my certificates came through except for my maths GCSE and my History and languages. I have been working in my school for three weeks now and even though I have never taught in a classroom in my life I have had complete solo responsibility for my classes from day one - I teach 16 classes out of a 30 class timetable. I am not shadowing or observing these classes, I have been their teacher from day one. The cut off date for UCAS and PGCE funding is the 7th October and while AQA have been working to obtain my maths certificate we are having absolutely no progress. We know I have sat one as I did my A levels. My SCITT leader wants me to sit a maths equivalency test next week with only 2 weeks preparation time. This scares me to death. I know some will sympathise when I say I am absolutely petrified of maths, it is a subject which takes me a long time to grasp and 2 weeks is not enough time for me to sit this test. Because of this I will be kicked off my SCITT course and out of the school where I am currently teaching. As you can imagine this is not only heart breaking for me but my school have been let down and more importantly my pupils have been let down. I have had really good reports about my teaching already. I have been observed by the Head and all members of SLT who have been impressed with my teaching and my methods. I have been allowed to settle into the department and have got involved ( I have started a couple of book club groups and help with the school netball team.) I have two dilemmas - do I give up my course this week and sit this equivalency test in my own time or do I try and appeal this situation to see if we cant reach a compromise. And please, I have been on other forums where I have read some appalling comments from people who say that if you cant sit a basic maths GCSE paper then you should not be a teacher at all, if you cannot sit this paper then you cannot be a good teacher, and other just as offensive comments. I understand basic maths is essential - but surely I proved this by passing my numeracy test? Anyway what I am really asking is that I am in an absolutely terrible situation but I know I will make a really good teacher regardless of not being able to produce a certificate that is almost a quarter of a century old. Do I suck it up, do the test in my own time and reapply next year or do I appeal this situation and highlight the issue that I know many mature students, who have some amazing skills, are facing? Positive comments only please I am not in the mood for sanctimonious lectures about the importance of maths from anybody - as you can well imagine. Thank you all in advance.
  2. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    Can you get a copy of the format of this equivalency exam to get an idea of what is on it? Or download past GCSE papers with their marking scheme to look at and perhaps help you prepare?

    Personally, I would not leave your current school/job until the last possible moment - you could pass the test, your old GCSE certificate might be found, an exemption might be made due to the curcumstances, etc.

    I hate maths, too but as I took a maths class at university (undergraduate in the USA) and somehow got a B back in 1990, it was accepted.

    Good luck and don't give up the fight!
  3. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    I'm not sure what you mean when you say that you know you got your maths because of doing A levels...?

    One thing worth trying - it's a long shot, but worth it - is contacting your old school (where you did your GCSEs) and asking if they still have records of your achievements.
  4. bettinaboo

    bettinaboo New commenter

    Many thanks for your reply. I have downloaded some past papers and the maths dept in the school where I am currently teaching have provided me with some past maths papers. Unfortunately I am not doing very well at all. You are normally given 12 weeks to work through the equivalency test, I only have two. I am trying to look at this from both sides and hold myself to blame a bit for expecting there to be no issue with getting my old certificates. In hindsight I could have done this test back in the summer when I had time, but my SCITT leader said hang fire until your certificates come through. AQA were exceptionally slow at getting my certificates back. They seemed to have all sorts of issues and I never received them until the end of August - about 4 days before I started work at my school. This is a really horrible situation and I know there are many others facing the same issues. I was told yesterday if I cannot produce my certificate then I will have to sit the test by next Wednesday at the very latest. I will give it my best shot lol but I am not hopeful.
  5. bettinaboo

    bettinaboo New commenter

    Sorry, what I meant to say was I could not have gone on to do my a-levels at college without a C in GCSE Maths and English - my old college have verified this in a letter but it doesn't matter because SCITT have to have evidence of the GCSE. I would love to contact my old school but it no longer exists so I have to rely on the exam board to help me and AQA have got to be the most unhelpful bunch of people I have ever come across. I am constantly chasing them. My school have been really helpful. They have told SCITT that they do not want to lose me but AQA will not deal with them directly because of data protection laws. I am just going to have to sit the test and do my best I think and then take it from there. Thank you for your reply and your advice :)
  6. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Ah, sorry to hear that contacting your old school is a non-starter. Best of luck with this problem - I do hope it works out for you sooner rather than later!
  7. NobodyKnowstheTrouble

    NobodyKnowstheTrouble New commenter

    Good luck - just try your best! Hopefully, you have a chance for a retake?

    Bestest wishes
  8. welshwizard

    welshwizard Established commenter Forum guide

    Advice above re your question however I would have real concerns about the SCITT you are on
    Whey have they not verified your qualifications until now?
    I would also be concerned about the quality of training.
    "I have been working in my school for three weeks now and even though I have never taught in a classroom in my life I have had complete solo responsibility for my classes from day one - I teach 16 classes out of a 30 class timetable. I am not shadowing or observing these classes, I have been their teacher from day one."
    Where exactly is the training in that?
  9. bettinaboo

    bettinaboo New commenter

    SCITT have been aware of my situation regarding my certificate since they offered me the position. After a long talk with my professional mentor today I found out that it is all to do with the funding they receive. Because I am salaried my PGCE is funded and, from what I understand, they use the last possible deadline to completely enrol candidates due to issues like the one I am facing. I have a meeting with my SCITT leader on Thursday and I hope she can give me more clarification regarding this issue. As for the training or lack of it, you are absolutely right and I have raised the issue with them many times over the last three weeks. Out of my whole SCITT training cohort I am the only person who is teaching. The rest are observing and shadowing. Furthermore they are all shadowing their mentors; mine teaches at the same time as me so I barely see her. I have one hours ITT training per week. This is hit and miss because my professional mentor is also the assistant head so is often out of school attending meetings. SCITT have basically said that because I am salaried I am at the mercy of the school and there is nothing they can do. The dept I am in are short three teachers which they have replaced with trainees. At the moment I just feel like I have been put in to fill the gap. It is all very disheartening.
  10. jackgladas

    jackgladas New commenter

    Unfortunately I can't offer much support for your situation, but I wanted to say...

    "people who say that if you cant sit a basic maths GCSE paper then you should not be a teacher at all, if you cannot sit this paper then you cannot be a good teacher"

    These people are talking absolute rubbish. Nobody should listen to them.
  11. Conrad81

    Conrad81 New commenter

    Hey! What happened? The exact same thing happened to me! And I was on the same sort of funded course!

    I had two weeks to pass it, and I'm very poor at maths. I'm a drama teacher.

    I paid for a maths tutor to come to my house everyday up until the exam.
    It was boring and hard, especially because I was teaching and being observed every lesson!

    But I did the equivalency test and passed with a C grade.
  12. bettinaboo

    bettinaboo New commenter

    Well done Conrad81 :) unfortunately my decision was made for me. Apparently SCITT salaried positions are only normally given to people who have had at least a years experience in the classroom, whether that be teaching as an unqualified teacher, a cover sup or a TA. I had no classroom experience, apart from 10 experience days in different schools while I was doing my degree. During my initial schools direct interview I was told that under no circumstance would any of us be expected to teach from day one - we would spend time observing and sharing classes. We would then start teaching after the first half term but our mentors would still be with us, observing and training us. As I said previously this did not happen in the school that I was in. I was teaching by myself from day one. They were piling more and more responsibility on to me, I was only seeing my mentor once a week and the training was really hit and miss. I really felt like I was there just to fill the gap left by a previous teacher. Anyway to cut a long story short I complained to my SCITT leader. They contacted the school who basically said that because they were paying me I needed to continue with the timetable I was doing. My SCITT were not happy with this and because the school could not meet the training expectations they have pulled out of the alliance. I am very upset but to be fair I was not receiving the training I needed. I am working in my school up until half term as a gesture of goodwill but then that's it for me for the rest of the year. I am going to take the maths equivalency in my own time, do some private tutoring and really research the different routes into teaching. These last 6 weeks have been a massive learning curve for me, I know that I still really want to teach, however it isn't going to happen for me this year ;( I feel a bit let down to be fair - I know I need to take some of the responsibility, however, i do feel that my training alliance and my school need to shoulder some of the responsibility. :(
  13. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    I am sorry that after all your very hard work and worry that you have to leave your school anyway. In fact, you are being very generous saying that your training alliance and your school need to shoulder some of the responsibility, I think that they need to shoulder ALL of the responsibility.

    There are a number of routes into teaching and I hope that you find one that suits you...

    best wishes

    damnant quod non intellegunt
  14. bettinaboo

    bettinaboo New commenter

    Many thanks to everyone for your advice and kind words. I am heartbroken that things have turned out this way but I am trying to think positively and see this as maybe a sign that I should be moving in a different direction. I have been talking to the DofE over the last couple of weeks and they want me to record exactly what has happened to me over the last 7 weeks or so. According to them I should never have been allowed to start teaching straight away, and my mentor should have been someone who was with me all the time. I don't want to cause any trouble but I do want to stop this sort of thing from happening to anyone else. It is awful in my school at the moment - they all know I am leaving so I am pretty much being left out of everything. I just go in, teach my classes and then go home again. I only really talk to my pupils and that's it :(. Anyway that is enough of my moaning :) thank you all so very very much. I am going to take some time out now to weigh up all my options and have a good think.
  15. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    bettinaboo that is absoloutely shocking! The school obviously doesn't understand the training requirements, and should not be involved in training at all (and they're not the only one, in my experience! I heard some horror stories on my PGCE last year). I don't understand why you are remaining at the school? Unless they are paying you and you need the money? You are not responsible for those kids, you need to leave and they need to employ a qualified teacher instead. Good luck. x
  16. bettinaboo

    bettinaboo New commenter

    I was planning on leaving the week that my official training ended, this would have been the 7th October. However after a meeting with the headmaster, who managed to make me feel very guilty about only giving them 3 days notice I changed my mind and decided to stay until half term. He basically told me that giving such a short amount of notice would mean that he could not give me a good reference in the future, it was not fair on my pupils and I was really just running away and walking out on them. I was in such a state about the whole situation that I just agreed to stay on for the 3 weeks left until half term. My training has completely stopped, the teacher who was my mentor pops her head in the door once a week to make sure I am ok and the department head just nods at me in the corridor if I happen to see him. The final straw for me was on Thursday. I received a message from my dept head, through my mentor, reminding me that I need to write my assessment questions for my years 7, 8 and 9 and have their first piece of assessed work ready and marked by the end of this coming week. I have absolutely no idea how to go about this or what assessments I need to be doing. Unify and schemes of work are not completely up together so I have no templates to work from. I spoke to the union rep in school confidentially - she has been really good to be fair. She has told me that with no training I should not be expected to be doing this by myself and she is going to have a word with the dept head and the head if she needs to.

    This experience has been appalling from start to finish. I have been in training and development for about 15 years now and I have always believed that you should assume a new trainee knows nothing and train them accordingly. I feel that this school assumed I knew everything and just left me to find my way around some pretty confusing systems. However, I am old enough now to realise that this doesn't happen everywhere, unfortunately I was put in a school that was not ready for a trainee - they are to short staffed and need teachers not trainees. It has not put me off teaching at all. For a person who has not had any classroom experience at all I have managed to control my classes and establish my place as a teacher within those classes so I know I am more than capable of teaching. I just need to get over this obstacle and start again next year :)
    blueskydreaming likes this.
  17. welshwizard

    welshwizard Established commenter Forum guide

    You need to look at the other training routes and you may find that a postgraduate programme at a university is better structured . In addition PGCE in itself has a postgraduate status and QTS is really only a status that allows you to teach in England and Wales and parts of the EEC and is not recognised in many countries as a teaching qualification in its own right

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