Teacher training providers will be responsible for making sure prospective teachers have adequate literacy and numeracy skills from October, as the government confirms it is axing the QTS skills tests.
Schools Week exclusively revealed last week that the government plans to ditch the numeracy and literacy skills entry tests, which prospective teachers must pass in order to start their training, following a consultation about whether the tests are fit for purpose.
In a written ministerial statement today, schools minister Nick Gibb confirmed the tests would end in just three months time.
He said: “From October, teacher training providers will become responsible for ensuring that prospective teachers meet the high standards of literacy and numeracy required to be a teacher. Under this new system, trainees will be benchmarked against a defined set of skills they will be expected to have by the end of their initial teacher training.
“This new system of provider-led assurance will be introduced at the end of the current recruitment cycle.”
Responding to today’s announcement, Emma Hollis, executive director of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers, insisted the change would not lead to the “dumbing down” of the profession. She said the QTS tests had led to too many “false positives” or candidates failing by just a few marks, and had too many “practical barriers” including the locations of test centres and difficulty booking appointments to take the test.
“ITT providers will now be able to take a developmental approach to a candidate’s functional literacy and numeracy which will allow gaps to be identified and filled,” she said.
“Going forward, this will ensure quality and consistency as providers will have a more rounded understanding of the functional literacy and numeracy requirements of a cohort.”
Gibb, a long-time supporter of the tests, wrote just last year they “reassure parents and school leaders” that new teachers can “demonstrate a high standard of numeracy and literacy when they enter the classroom”.
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.
The DfE has been speaking to candidates, training providers, internal customers and external service organisations about the effectiveness of the current tests, what the barriers are and how the system might be reformed.
Around 10 per cent of candidates fail at least one of the tests each year, according to government data.
Originally, any would-be teacher who failed three times was locked out of training for two years before he or she could retake the tests, but that limit was removed last February.
In April the government also admitted that a marking error meant hundreds of trainees over the past few years were wrongly told they had failed.
Schools Week revealed last month the DfE could face legal action after offering those affected an “insulting” £100 compensation.