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Important Information on Professional Skills Tests for Trainee Teachers

Important Information on Professional Skills Tests for Trainee Teachers

This information should be shared with any who are in contact with potential trainee teachers.

The specific changes for those entering the teaching profession are:

  • The tests became pre-entry tests for initial teacher training (ITT), to be taken once a candidate has submitted an application for an ITT course. Candidates must have passed the tests before starting an ITT course.
  • The pass mark for the skills tests has been raised. This applies to the tests taken by all candidates, including those already on courses.
  • The number of resits allowed has been limited to two per subject for all candidates.
  • Candidates receive their first attempt at each test free of charge but will be charged for resits.
  • Candidates who fail after two resits in either numeracy or literacy are not able to book any more skills tests for 24 months from the date of the second resit.

All Trainee Teachers must pass the new professional skills tests in literacy and numeracy before they can join the teaching profession. The standards being required of teachers entering the profession is rising and it is important we understand what these requirements are and can support our dyslexic colleagues to meet them. From previous articles in this newsletter you will be aware that from July 2013, anyone wishing to join a teacher training programme must pass redesigned Professional Skills Tests in Literacy, Numeracy (and eventually reasoning tests) before they can be accepted on the course.

Trainees who started their course prior to September 2013 will be taking the Professional Skills Tests during their courses and will have to pass the skills tests before they can be recommended for QTS, though they can take the tests at any time during their course.

Pre-entry testing was launched in September 2012 for July 2013 entry onwards for those not yet in teacher training, who will have to pass the tests before they can enter their course.

Raising the standard:

The new syllabus against which the tests are drawn can be found in the Skills Test Review Panel Final Report – June 2012.

The report notes: ‘The broadening of the test specifications and the change to the means of assessment recommended in this report will make the tests more demanding in addition these changes will be accompanied by raising the overall level so that it is broadly equivalent to GCSE Grade B’.

This approach is being phased in. As the report notes: ‘Therefore, given the significant jump that Grade B would represent from the requirements of the current tests, we recommend that this requirement should be phased in over three years. Achieving a pass in the 2013 tests would therefore be closer to a Grade C standard, rising in 2014 and again in 2015 to reach a Grade B’.

Candidates will take the tests current at the time they choose to sit them. Therefore they should review the proposed revised syllabus [in the June 2012 report] and guidance to plan their preparations.

The outline specification is already available as part of the skills tests review: final report (June 2012), so candidates can begin to study the curriculum areas covered. It would be advisable to plan for the higher level of syllabus content and marking.

The Teaching Agency assure us any information about the new tests is released as early as practicable on the Department for Education website.

The Teaching Agency plans to release further sample questions and a draft specification at the earliest opportunity, prior to the publication of complete practice material.

These tests are computer-based. Numeracy papers do not permit the use of a calculator though pencil and paper are permitted.

The Teaching Agency assure us that they are committed to offering a range of reasonable adjustments, based on the evidence submitted, to ensure that the tests are accessible and fair to all yet maintain the standards required of all trainees. Their guidance notes:

Candidates who previously required special arrangements in a test or public exam can request the same for the professional skills tests for trainee teachers.

There are different versions of the tests to cater for different needs. Evidence must be available to support any request for adaptations, including the following:

  • 25 and 50 per cent extra time versions;
  • On-screen spelling questions in literacy tests;
  • On-screen mental arithmetic questions in numeracy tests; and
  • Paper-based tests (including larger print format).

Information on application for these is available from the Department for Education website.

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