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

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

  1. If you read all the threads on this post you will see that I am an Art teacher and like I said I have not had to use the Maths I have learnt in the teaching of Art.
    If I was a Maths or English teacher then yes, I would be unfit to teach and would agree with your opinion.
    But as I am an Art teacher I find your opinion offensive.
    So in response to suggesting that I am not a fit person to teach, the teaching of Art very rarely uses the basic skills used in Maths. Tesselation, symmetry, grids, pattern, scale, proportion and isometric drawing are touched upon in the teaching of Art. Maths is not used every day in Art.
    In my post the fact that it took me 13 attempts to pass shows persistance and determination, what should I have done? give up after the first failure?
    The fact is the test is timed at about 10 seconds, by the time you have listened to the question (and they are very wordy, not just a case of find the percentage of blah blah) it is repeated and you are trying to work out the answer, you can use paper to write and work out on, by the time it is worked out, you have to type it into the computer, usually by that time you have run out of time.
    The reason I failed so many times is nothing to do with lack of knowledge or lack of awareness, but due to the time it took to work out the question and type it into the computer correctly.
    Each test I took I was closer to passing, the last 4 tests I was 1 mark away from passing.
    The other frustrating thing about the test is you cannot see exactly which questions you failed on. You cannot review the test to see your weak areas and work on them!
    I get the feeling that most of the posts on this thread are judging a test they probably have not had the pleasure of taking within the past year!
    Like I said previously, I heard of a P.E PGCE student who took 17 attempts, I can fully understand the pressure and frustration.
  2. I do sort of see your point Middlemarch, but the fact is that the tests do have to be passed in order to gain QTS, so all teachers (since they came in) have actually passed them!
    Should we judge too much on how many times it took? The fact is the teacher in question clearly is capable of passing.
    I think the post that I so rudely corrected earlier demonstrates that even when the tests have been passed, they are no cast-iron guarantee of literacy or numeracy. I do think a basic level of both is relevant to all teaching, along with a capacity to understand ICT, but I also do not think there is any shame in having to revise or re-learn skills that you haven't used in a while in order to pass them. I had to revise extremely hard to pass the maths one (discalcula/bad at numbers/no practice since GCSE), but I have known many med students work extremely hard to pass their exams too.
    And Kim, why, on an NQT forum, do you keep insisting that none of us have done these tests recently? I admit it is over a year since I sat mine, however only by a maximum of nine months. This is probably true for a lot of NQT's as they were statutory for the 2008-2009 cohort.
  3. You may not need maths to teach art. But you do need it for:

    Basic running of the class - e.g. dividing class into groups for group work
    Run a school trip - costs, pupil teacher ratios etc
    Analyse class and tutor group progress data
    Anything to do with finance as a HOD or assistant - budgets etc

    As a teacher, you do much more than just teach your subject in your classroom.
    The wider role of a teacher does require every single teacher to have good basic maths. And that is what is tested.

    I got asked by a year 7 a few weeks ago what her maths homework meant. She didn't understand the wording of a question about interpreting graphs. (Which a lot of the skills test is about.) I am not a maths teacher, and dropped maths as soon as I could. But she knew me, so she asked me for help. How would it have looked if I couldn't help with year 7 maths homework??

    Although.... like I have prob said before, I'm fairly sure I will never see a 'box and whisker' graph or whatever it is called, again.
  4. Sorry, I will have to find out how to format text with a Mac - all different. But shiny and new and the kids love it!
  5. They love the macs. Just thought I would clarify. Sorry. Sports day thing today has totally fried my brain. Too much time in the sun.
  6. Yapyap forgive me I was not insisting no one on this forum has done the tests recently.
    I should rephrase as I meant to say;
    one or two of the posts on this thread are judging a test they probably have not had the pleasure of taking within the past year based on their judgements on the amount of times taken to pass the test
  7. Still doesn't make much sense.
  8. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Clearly, you're unaware that the PGCE and QTS in England qualifies you to teach. Not just a particular subject or phase, but anything at all that you fancy applying to teach.
    Therefore, you aren't just applying to be an art teacher, as the many threads we see on TES asking about transferring from secondary to primary will testify. This means that you must pass the qualifying tests.
    If my remarks are all it takes to offend you, by the way, you won't last five minutes in the average secondary school.
  9. Middlemarch you seem to know a lot about everything for an NQT and have a very high opinion, clearly I'm not going to go into my life story about why and how I became a teacher because it is no-ones business but mine.
    May I ask what subject you teach?
    But as I keep saying you are very judgemental about the amount of times taken to pass the numeracy test rather than the fact that one was successfull.

    Again, you seem very judgemental of others, in terms of lasting five minutes in the average secondary school, shame my induction is nearly finished!


  10. I believe middlemarch is a secondary head, kim, and therefore has a fair bit of experience of working with NQTs. Knows a thing or two, I'd say.

    Middlemarch isn't the only one who's judgemental about the number of times taken to pass the skills test. I only did mine last year so have the recent experience of them which you seem to want, and I passed them all first time. No 'revision guides' required (what a waste of money). Agree with the person who said that the hardest was the ICT because I kept wanting to do things I'd do in windows but couldn't on the system they use. You keep going on about the timings for the mental maths but that's the whole point - KS2 children have between 5 and 15 seconds for their mental maths papers. It hardly demonstrates that you have basic mental arithmetic skills if you need a minute or more for each question. You were even given a pencil and paper to do quick workings out if you wanted to! There were no time limits on individual questions on the rest of the test, just an overall limit and you could go back to questions if you missed them out.
    It might be judgemental but I simply cannot see how someone who finds these tests hard to pass can really be fit to teach, regardless of the subject. What about if you cover other classes? Help children with homework etc? All teachers should be able to model basic numeracy and literacy to all children at all times and whilst these tests are not perfect, if they manage to weed out a few people who can't do that, then it seems there may actually be a need for them.
  11. I never had to do these tests but don't see what the big deal is. If you want to be a teacher, you need to be literate and numerate - that doesn't seem unreasonable. I've spoken to a couple of NQTs who did the tests and they thought they demanded no more than basic numeracy and literacy. I've read posts on here from primary teachers who don't want to teach y6 because the maths is beyond them which is scary. Personally, I'd like TAs to do them too - I get very fed up having to deal with kids who are thoroughly confused about the basics because they have been misinformed by a TA.I find it awkward when a TA has corrected some writing and I then have to either correct her punctuation, spelling or grammar or ignore it for fear of undermining her and confusing the child.
  12. Well said.
    FYI middlemarch is a head
  13. PinkRuby:
    I never had to do these tests but don't see what the big deal is. If you want to be a teacher, you need to be literate and numerate - that doesn't seem unreasonable Of course it is not unreasonable.But where on this post have I said that I am NOT numerate? ( I have said I have Discalculia, just means I am a little slower than most)Where have I said that I CANNOT use my basic numeracy skills in everyday teaching? I merely stated that I have not had the need to as yet. (maybe I was not conscious that I was using basic numeracy as I do not have a problem with it, just test conditions I have a problem with.)In fact I have covered a Maths lesson where a student asked how to work out a third of something and I had no problem answering his question. If thats not part of basic numeracy then I will eat my hat!So whats the problem?I have nothing further to say on the matter as this is getting rather tedious.I passed and I am numerate and literate so there enough said.
  14. I am agreeing with Pink Ruby's quote. In case it is not clear because of the lack of a space between the quote.
  15. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    I haven't been an NQT since 1982, I'm afraid...
  16. My point exactly.
  17. What is your 'point exactly'. This forum isn't exclusive to NQTs.
    I only did the tests 2 years ago and find it really worrying that somebody would need to do a basic maths test that many times!

  18. ..................................

    <font face="Calibri"> </font> Not once have I said that I CANNOT use my basic numeracy skills in everyday teaching? I merely stated that I have not had the need to as yet. (maybe I was not conscious that I was using basic numeracy as I do not have a problem with it, just test conditions I have a problem with.)
    I passed and I am numerate and literate so enough said.
  19. personally, I passed the tests (all 3) first time, and all in one go, that being said I did do the practice tests, as I had been warned before hand that the format was strange, and that it was worth getting up to speed with the format. I didn't do any revision, and found them realtively easy. The hardest was the ICT one, because as people have said the format is very strange, and not at all like a normal desktop!

    The tests are seriously not a big deal, they are just another thing you have to do to gain QTS (we graduated this week, yet there was still one person who hadn't taken their tests, so they won't have QTS yet). I had to do a basic maths and english test to get onto the course in the first place, and the skills tests were easier than that!
    I did however have to tutor my friend for the maths test; she worked as a foundation stage ta vefore getting on the scitt course, and to be fair she didn't have any need to know what the mode etc meant. This is where people have trouble, yes ok they are easy if you know what you're doing, but if you teach 4/5 year old children, and that is all the experience of maths you have had for the past 10 years, then even ks2 maths is going to be unfamiliar. Yes it is only ks2 level maths, but if you haven't had to do it for a while, then surely relearning it and revising it is a good idea- it puts you in good stead for the forthcoming year when as some of you have pointed out you will need that level of maths knowledge when planning trips etc. After my afternoon of tutoring, and going over the basics she passed first time, which both I and she were really pleased with.
    Honestly, they're not that hard, and a bit of practice before hand with the online tests shold be al you need. If you feel you need the books, then get them, I got them on ebay for next to nothing, found I didn't need them and so sold them without ever opening them! Do what yoiu need to do to pass them. That being said 13 times is a quite a lot, and you should definately have been entitled to extra time - they definately asked me before i sat down if I needed it.
    So if anyone out there is discalculate/dyslexic etc then make sure you get the extra tiem you're entitled to!
  20. I just want to say I think people are giving Kim Elder a lot of unnecessary abuse on here for re-taking her maths skills test. She teaches Art - when excatly will she need to find a percentage using mental maths in 15 seconds flat in a lesson? She has said she can use maths to help with her wider teaching role, so what's the problem?! (Dividing a class into groups isn't excatly difficult).
    My mother does learner support at a college and has helped many secondary PGCE students pass their maths GCESs so they can then pass their PGCE. Most are excellent teachers in their subject, but for whatever reason struggle with maths. Why should secondary schools lose out on good Art / Drama etc teachers simply because they need some help with maths? The point someone made about covering lessons is ridiculous...I can remember at school when lesson were covered we never expected the the teachers to be any help if it wasn't their subject area! (Why would a non-maths teacher be able to help with GCSE / A-level maths if they don't teach/use the skills every day? - you wouldn't expect a maths teacher to be able to teach an Art lesson! )
    I've just finished by BA(Ed) and I revised for the Maths skills test - no shame in brushing up on skills., in fact it'd be silly not to. Stop verbally beating up people who aren't afraid to work hard to pass a test that has little relevance to their particular teaching role so they can have the chance to inspire children in art (or whatever subject).

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