Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Testing times

A blog detailing my journey through my Secondary English PGCE course is something that, if maintained properly, would have served as a fine personal document for both myself and others to see the progress I've made. Sadly, it's a thing that I thought of/was suggested to me too late to make it worthwhile, and I fear that, considering my inconsistent posting on this 'ere bloggy, would have become an exercise in futility. Ironically, it's the unrelenting amount of work that I have to keep on top of for the course that has this year hindered my regular bloggage (not an excuse, merely an explanation), meaning a PGCE blog would have been marred by the very exercise it would have detailed.

All of that leads in a roundabout way to the topic this entry is actually about. On Wednesday this week I completed three examinations called QTS Skills Tests (QTS standing for qualified teacher status). The tests are in ICT, numeracy and literacy, and you have to have successfully completed them before you can be recommended for QTS status at the end of the PGCE course. You can take them as many times as you need to in order to pass them, and they are free of charge. I know several people who have had to take at least one of the tests more than once, and so I was very pleased that I managed to pass all three on the same day on my first attempt and in around an hour and a half.

Essentially, I saw passing the tests as the completion of another tick-box element to my PGCE course. The General Teaching Council (GTC) has decreed that all three of these tests are necessary for every training teacher to complete. So I, training as an English teacher, had to undertake a literacy test. Never mind that I've got a GCSE in English Language. Oh, and a university degree in English. It's the same for other subjects. Training maths teachers have to take the numeracy skills test; training ICT teachers have to sit the ICT skills test. It seems to me to be an unnecessary process that just adds extra stuff to think about on top of the titanic amount of work all training teachers have to undertake as it is.

I personally didn't find the tests particularly stressful: the only test I thought I might have to resit was the numeracy as I haven't done much mental arithmetic for a good few years. I do know several people who have really found fitting in the tests and passing them fairly stressful however. I just think that a reshuffle of who has to take which tests is needed. Why not say that English trainees don't have to take the literacy test, maths trainees the numeracy test and ICT trainees the ICT test? It seems fairly logical to me, and means that only those training teachers who really need to demonstrate their skills in these three areas will do so. Something for the GTC to consider for the future methinks.

Anyway, I've passed mine now. But I'm pretty sure that now I've done them, they'll play very little part in my future career as a teacher.


TheTelf said...

Contrasts with the weird abortive General Studies modules we did/didn't do in sixth form, where doing a maths course meant you didn't in fact have to do the maths bit. Not that any of us did any of it. Did we even get a qualification out of any of that?

Also lol at your use of the phrase "QTS status"...

The Big LeBamski said...

Just realised why you have teh lulz at that. I realise the S in QTS stands for status, but it's just what QTS is referred to throughout the course and it's hard to get out of the habit. I wish I could remember the specific name for that error is, as people always refer to it when the phrase "PIN number" is used. I'll have to have a look.

TheTelf said...

The term appears to be (rather hilariously) RAS syndrome (Redundant Acronym Syndrome syndrome).