Prospective teachers will undergo new screening to check they are suitable for the classroom for the first time this year, blocking unsuitable candidates at the first hurdle.
35,000 people enrol onto teaching training courses yearly, the new tests being introduced from September are designed to assess the ‘non-cognitive’ abilities of candidates, the computer based questionnaires will last 15 minutes and will gauge the responses to a number of scenarios assessing three core skills; adaptability, emotional resilience and self-organisation. The new system will not be compulsory but it is expected that the majority of educational institutions will use it.
The new test is designed in a way that ensures that candidates will have the appropriate organisational skills to fulfil the role of a teacher and the ‘emotional resilience’ necessary to deal with pressure and badly behaved students. The process will block applicants who struggle to communicate with pupils.
This new system is just one of many overhauls of the teacher training system in England, other changes include more rigorous literacy and numeracy tests placing stricter limits on the number of resits allowed. Further to this, graduates with poor degree results will have little access to training grants and those with better results will be offered greater incentives.
‘Or you have the highly competitive Teach First option. This takes high achieving graduates (2.1+) and places them in schools to teach, not as a trainee but as a teacher with your own class for the year on a good starting salary. You have to attend a full summer training programme to prepare and still do assessments throughout the year.’
The question of whether high achieving graduates would enter schemes such as Teach First rather than PGCEs, even despite new financial incentives introduced by the government, is an interesting one to consider.
Critics suggest that this new system will be ineffective saying that the only possible way to identify if someone is suitable for teaching is to put them in a classroom environment and see how they react. Some believe that the money could be best spent elsewhere by encouraging training institutions to place, and observe, candidates in a classroom.
These new measures are said to add further reinforcement to an already rigorous process ensuring that the best candidates, in terms of both academic and interpersonal excellence, are entering the teaching profession.