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the QTS skills tests......why so hard ?

Discussion in 'NQTs and new teachers' started by philpatjj, Jun 23, 2009.

  1. anyone else finding the skills tests really hard ? I was helping someone with their's maybe 5 years ago and now they have gone through the roof in terms of difficulty.
    Q : basic requirements to commence teacher training is GCSE Maths + English, so why then make the tests way harder than GCSE at the end of the course ?
    Is there some way a person not capable of passing these tests could somehow still qualify, if not , then the previous training course has been / was a waste of everyone's (taxpayer's) time + effort ?
    Seems ridiculous.
  2. What on earth is on the test that is harder than GCSE?! For a start the english test is based on basic standards of english and I am pretty sure that the Numeracy test is KS2 based.
  3. Can I also ask how it wastes taxpayers money?
  4. I think it is a bit more KS3 but definatly not as hard as GSCE!
    There are plenty of skills test guidance books out there so if you revise using them you can't go too wrong.
  5. I passed my numeracy QTS test last year after the 13th attempt. The amount of stress and revision to do a test I have have never used since was unbelievable.
    Its not that one did not know how to do the maths (as I retook my GCSE Maths the year before in order to get on the PGCE as well as being dyscalculate) its the time given between the questions that is the main problem.
    Plus the way that most of the graph, cumalitive frequency etc type questions are worded or shown differently to the GCSE exam makes it all the more difficult.

  6. I think it's a complete waste of taxpayers money as why have entry requirements and then retest, yes you may ask about gaps between doing the GCSEs and then teaching but at the end of the day when you apply for any jobs you don't get tested on qualifications you may have gained many years ago. Also if they thought that much of the Skills tests they would pay for a Microsoft license so the ICT one was actually software teachers and everyone else uses, as opposed to a DTP suite that they have made up with no command key functions. Ridiculous.
  7. I think the point of the ICT test is to test your ability to learn the basic IT skills. Every couple of years a new version of windows, microsoft office etc comes out which is different, and a significant amount of which you have to re-learn. Plus you need to be adaptable to use a Mac and a PC. Like a lot of teaching, the transferable skills are more important that the immediate content.

    To be honest - 13 attempts a the maths test is funny. Not sure I would want someone like that teaching my kids. Did you not practice the tests in between?

    And the fact that it takes people 13 attempts to pass surely demonstrates the need for the test!

    Sorry if thats harsh, I'm feeling like an argument today.
  8. I don't think it is that harsh.
    13 attempts at a basic level test in maths is a bit worrying!
  9. It is also quite clear that despite possessing GCSEs in mathematics and English, there is still a minority of trainee teachers struggling to pass the skills tests and demonstrate their maths and literacy skills. This would suggest that having the previous qualifications is not sufficient for some. In addition, surely there is enough difference between the requirements at GCSE and the teaching and learning undertaken at primary level to warrant the closer scrutiny of a prospective teacher's skills in these core areas.
    We have these - they're called the skills tests!
  10. Except they're not - as stated in my earlier post. The skills tests were not introduced to test subject knowledge. If you want to test subject knowledge, introduce a test that does that properly - not a half baked test that only covers a tiny proprtion of the subject requirement we teach children.
  11. Am i missing something here. the skills test are/should be easy. its just another hoop you have to jump through to gain QTS. Failing them time and time again is very worrying.
    My biggest issue with them, is that fact that the TDA think thta after spednign 4 years at a top university they still call into question my basic maths, english skills. If you dotn have basic skills after higher education, surely higher education must be failing you.
    oh well, im sure there will be more hoops to jump through soon enough, looks like personality test are the next non-proven, non-scientific measure to determine suitability as a teacher.
    its all rubbish!!!
  12. I'm not sure I understand your argument Milliebear - you now think there should be EXTRA maths and literacy tests for primary PGCE students?? Is this not assessed as part of the primary PGCE / degree course? Whereas in secondary, I didn't have any sort of maths test so the skills tests fulfill a valid function.

    And as I said before - if everyone passes them first time, then they are redundant. The fact that people don't, suggests having a GCSE pass in maths does not = understanding of functional maths.
  13. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Exactly right.
    Equally, if the standards of spelling, punctuation and grammar displayed regularly on here are anything to go by, GCSE in English is definitely not an indicator of appropriate skills in English.
  14. No, my point is, that if you don't think the GCSE requirement is enough to guarantee standards in the core subjects, then you need to introduce a properly designed, universal test to make sure people don't slip through the net when it comes to subject knowledge. We should NOT be relying on a test that was never designed for that purpose. So, my best recommendation would be, either accept the GCSE requirement as valid (which the TDA pretends to do) or design a proper test and scrap the GCSE requirement. It is not true to say that all ITT courses properly test core subject knowledge of their own volition. Providers vary massively in how much emphasis they place on core subject knowledge.
    I am concerned that basic standards are not being met, and doubly concerned that people think the skills test is a valid test of adequate core subject knowledge - it is not, and was never designed to be.
  15. It's all well and good saying that GCSE's in Maths and English should show that someone has basic skills in numeracy and literacy, but it does depend on when a person actually took their GCSE's. It may be OK for someone who did their GCSE's within the last ten years but not all student teachers are recent graduates and, while I'm not doubting anyone's intelligence for a second if you don't use it, you lose it. This means that passing the skills tests shows a person has these basic skills regardless of when they studied - they aren't designed to test subjectknowledge at any level (as far as I'm aware).
    As for scrapping the GCSE requirements, I'm pretty sure that most graduate-level jobs would expect someone to have good GCSE's in Maths and English. Teaching is a graduate-level profession whether one is talking about primary or secondary level. If I were a parent, I would be slightly concerned if my children's teachers did not have these GCSE's.
    Please do not take any of my comments personally, that was not my intention. Sorry if I have caused any offence.
  17. I agree, middlemarch, and can only apologise for the dubious grammar on my earlier post on this thread. Think I was rewriting a sentence and posted it and then cringed when I reread it!!
    Milliebear - plenty of people get onto degree courses with E grade A levels these days and I have my suspicions that those people may not be in possession of the basic GCSEs you mentioned.
    I agree whole-heartedly with the poster who said 13 attempts at the skills tests is quite funny. I would certainly have concerns about someone with such poor basic skills teaching my children.
  18. mysterycat

    mysterycat New commenter

    Just to add a comment here. I don't believe that the tests are difficult and all of the people on my Secondary PGCE course managed to pass them with a reasonable degree of ease; I think this is probably the norm. It has to be said though that a few took several attempts to get through the ICT test as it has a rather peculiar operating system. I did however overhear a number of people having a conversation whilst I was queuing for one of my tests. A young Primary 4 Year B.Ed. undergraduate commented to her friend that she was on her 5th attempt at the Maths test which seemed a bit extreme. Not to put too fine a point on it either I do wonder when I read some of the things on these forums how on earth some of the respondents got through their tests; there is some rather dubious grammar and spelling.[​IMG]
  19. If it takes you 13 attempts to pass a very basic skills test you really ought to question whether you're heading into the right profession.
    No offence to anyone with advanced skills in a particular area, but all teachers should have basic skills. To be honest, I find the fact that many teachers needed to revise for the tests at all distinctly worrying.
    If you're scraping by on low grades yourself (for example, if you have E grade A-Levels, as someone mentioned) how are you supposed to allow ALL students to achieve their potential, including those who are operating at a level far above yourself?
  20. A couple of people on this thread have mentioned subject knowledge...
    On my GTP I had to do an "audit" which was basically a test on subject knowledge - the maths and science were somewhere between GCSE and A-level and the English was a bit of everything - children's literature, phonics, grammar, etc. It involved a bit of hard work and revision (although I got out of the Maths revision sessions by pointing out I had a degree in it), but was worthwhile.
    Do other courses have a similar test?
    giggle. xx

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