Are the Skills Tests Fit for purpose? (discuss)
I remember long ago taking my skills tests, way back then we had to take a literacy, a numeracy and an ICT test. I booked my three tests one Wednesday evening and I was all set for taking them in a sensible order, ICT, English then Maths – I was training to be a Maths and ICT teacher so I figured a thorn between 2 roses. There I sat in my chair about to start the maths tests and I thought to myself Oh good grief, as a Maths and ICT teacher! What happens if I fail the maths and ICT components? No added pressure there then! (I passed all three during that first Wednesday session) – despite proclaiming not to be any good at English. I’m fluent at Kimglish but, as my writing often suggests, I’m not a fan of the dreaded apostrophe and full stop. I do love a good comma, a new paragraph and an exclamation mark though!
Anyway this segues along to my topic for today. I have recently tutored two students in preparation for their skills tests. Both have GCSE grade B’s but are what I classify as maths phobic. They are both so incredibly scared of maths.
So these two adults with degrees are now trying to pass maths in order to teach.
I spoke to the lovely Julia Smith, who was fabulous with all her help.
Are the skills tests really fit for purpose?
And what purpose?
Of course I agree that teaching candidates should have the requisite level of mathematical and literary skill with the element of practical and problem solving skills.
The time came to take the practise tests. They both failed dreadfully with a maximum of 3 marks on first taking. They were both terrified of fractions decimals and percentages. And with the time limit of course they panicked!
The best tutoring option turned out to be watching me take the test as I explained my thought process. Teaching the links was key. For example; In a class of 20 students 9 have school dinners what is the percentage of student who have school dinners? So turning a fraction into a percentage – obviously the link 5 20’s goes into 100 so 9 x 5 = 45 %. (the next panic was the big numbers of 9 – only a 7 would be worse in my student’s eyes)
It was amazing how much learning to look for the links took away the fear.
So back to my question! Are the tests fit for purpose?
Would it be more suitable to have a test that is suitable for those teaching different key stages? Do KS1 and KS2 really need the same level of maths skills as a teacher teaching GCSE?
I completely understand that cross curricular skills are required so that GCSE teachers require a certain level of mathematical and literary skills to engage students.
Both of my students with some coaching passed the tests
So, back to my question. Are the skills tests fit for purpose?
My students were able to learn the skills required to pass the tests so from that perspective the tests are valuable as a learning to learn tool.
My students both needed that GCSE skills refresher where they re-learned FDP, charts and graphs, averages. They both needed a re-fresher on how to understand questions.
I don’t know!
Are they fit for purpose? Are they a valuable learning skill? Are they a perfect example of the growth mind-set where they are lead towards the Pitt and they need to find the skills and practise the skills required to succeed?
Is there a different way? Is there an alternative?
I feel the need to repeat, I don’t know!