A government commissioned report into teaching standards in Scotland has recommended trainee applicants undergo basic literacy and numeracy tests ...It goes on:
... the BBC understands it suggests prospective teachers should face reading and writing tests when they apply for training places.
It comes amid concern that incompetent staff are entering the profession.
Lindsay Paterson, professor of educational policy at the University of Edinburgh, said that as things stood, teacher training courses were "simply not intellectually challenging enough".
He said: "We know from research evidence that the numeracy of trainee primary school teachers leaves a great deal to be desired.
"This has to be addressed rather urgently."
"At the moment that is not being done adequately or systematically. A lot is left to chance and is left to the education that these students themselves got at school.That's a significant statement. Again: "A lot is left to chance and is left to the education that these students themselves got at school. That's not satisfactory."
"That's not satisfactory."
No-one (except those with a vested interest) seriously thinks that educational standards have risen in the last 15 years. Young people, even 'graduates', coming into the world of work have embarrassingly low levels of literacy - by which I mean the ability to express themselves in line with the usual conventions of spelling and grammar. As an ex-teacher, I sit and read some of the things that my company sends out to customers or potential customers, and I cringe at some of the basic errors that I see. And if you point this out, two things become clear: one, that they can't see anything wrong with it; and two, they don't see it as a problem. And these are not technical staff - these are bright young people with degrees in Marketing and the like. The cream of the crop.
Of course, if we stop teaching this stuff, it is only a matter of time before this trickles down to the next generation of educators. Fifteen years ago, the kids weren't being taught the basics. Now, those kids are the teachers, and they can't teach the basics, even if they wanted to. They simply don't have the knowledge or skills. Where this will end is anyone's guess.
I can't honestly blame 13 years of Labour government for this. The rot started many years ago. I started in secondary school (a Northern boys' grammar, with pretentions to great tradition) in the mid-60s, and I was in the year where they decided to abandon the teaching of grammar and concentrate on the creative side. What I know of grammar, therefore, I have learned from the study of foreign languages and a spot of Latin. When I was a teacher myself, I was often concerned by the lack of accurate English from people in my own (English) department. Some were sticklers for correctness; but many weren't all that bothered. And any criticism I, as head of department, made was held to be close to heresy by the local authority advisers.
So now we are going to have to test prospective teachers to see if they can read, write and add up well enough to be let loose on 7-year-olds. Where will this end? The one real chance of putting it right - an intensive course in basic English within the teacher training establishments - has been lost because the role of the training colleges has been downgraded in favour of the trendier (and cheaper) method of mentoring within schools: getting the existing teachers to train up the new ones.
It can't end well.