The Skills Tests! Are they fit for purpose? I don’t know!

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!





‘Twas the night before the holidays.

Here I am, The start of my Summer 2016 #Blogaday

Breaking up on a Thursday has baffled me, all day.

My head says its Friday! I was so convinced that it was Friday that I nearly missed my duty, and I was good to go with my #FFEd

So I’ve got my new classes, my new sets and I’m still awake at 1:25 because my head is buzzing.

I’m making my new timetable (so it looks pretty) and I’m making my new planner so Its Kim friendly, colour coordinated and dated.

I’m printing the class lists for my new mark book Having checked the point to mm converter

I’m trying to decide what colour my new Arch Lever file should be – Pink is the current front runner but I’m off to Paper chase tomorrow.

I’m working on all of my lists; the IKEA list, the Staples list, the Wilco list and of course the YPO, Amazon and EBay lists.

I’ve started my new book and prepped my book /kindle list.  I’ve got book 2 lined up, A Tom Clancy to start with; – the Jack Ryan Jr book 5 followed by my absolute nemesis, Will Self and his Book of Dave. Then onto a Paddington and back to another thriller!

I’m planning to gather all the Elephants in the “Herd of Sheffield” stampede.

I’m sitting here tapping away listening to the rain, cup of tea by my side. So where will my summer challenge head this year? I’ve got 30 school days or do I go for 42 days?

Of course Tea tour continues too!

Well I’ve achieved all of these plans and my alarm is set at a way more respectable 6:50 rather than 5:30.

Interesting Articles that fascinated me enough to warrant a tut or a nod.

New poverty advice for Scottish schools
We must save the lost boys in education | via @Telegraph

5 Study Habits You Should Be Practicing

Four tips for reducing maths anxiety | gregashman
Girls are more afraid of maths than boys

Some fabulous articles stating what most maths teacher already think!

  This morning,  whilst checking some education news articles and forums, I came across these fabulous, very relevant articles.

I consider them to be excellent reads so I though I would share them through the medium of blog:

I have already shared through the medium of Twitter but I really did find myself nodding , seething, moaning and complaining along with a few sharp intakes of breath.

They are worth reading !

The new school year , the cost of returning to school 

The cost of returning to school

Yesterday whitest doing my research for today’s blog , I found an interesting article about the cost of returning to school.  

Back in 1980 when I started secondary school, my Grammar school had a bottle green uniform – not the most common colour- we could buy the school : blazer , tie , scarf, summer uniform dresses , summer uniform fabric from 2 shops in the nearby town. Bottle green cost a small fortune.

Anyway this article surprised me! It’s a really interesting read !

Billions of pounds and millions of students – back to school 

Being one of the many stationary addicted teachers in the world , I thought I would take a light hearted look at the average (me) teachers return to school spending.

So the obligatory uniform requirements:

1. New winter coat, £150

According to

 How much should you spend?

Buy the best coat you can afford. You’ll be wearing this coat every day for the next few months so be prepared to spend a little more to ensure you get the best quality and a coat that will last – work out the cost per wear ratio if you need more convincing.For a lightweight coat look out for cashmere/wool mixes which will be warm without the bulk and weight of a 100% wool coat.

2. New school bag

We don’t need one, but we buy one just in case

A teacher sized Cath Kiddleston oilcloth £35

A teacher sized Fat Face bag is £60

I prefer a double bag approach combining a bag that I can carry my marking in (see above)

 (the small ikea blue bags used to cost 20 p each, were perfect but they don’t make them anymore) a pully case capable of holding laptop,iPad, planner etc.

Average price ( cheaper option) £50 you can silly over £150 prices too

3. New school shoes

Sensibility is required so Clarks it is, average price £70

But that at least doubles because we usually need at least 1 pair in case the first pair fall our of favour. And of course it could mean 3 or 4 pairs depending on the colour of our blouse- or is that just me ?  

4. It’s winter so new school boots too just in case!

Let’s head to Fat Face or Mantaray, average price is £90

I’m not even looking at the price of a seasonal new wardrobe , this is variable.  

Let’s say a few hundred,…., few really is a variable between 1 hundred and 20 hundreds- yes really

5. New teachers travel mug with a lid – the last one got left on your desk and went a bit Manky

Average price on Amazon and eBay is £10

6. New stationary oh dear, where do I start? (I’ve been very conservative this year)

This year I have gone sharpie silly and have indulged in several shades of Sharpie

Sharpie spending alone was £25 Luckily @tesco had fab offers.

Tesco also sell my favourite copier paper, I prefer the 100 g stuff bought 5 Reims can’t remember how much they cost I’m thinking around £30

Tesco also sell my favourite poly pockets I think you younger people call them plastic pockets or plastic wallets, but those plastic see through things, tesco do a brilliant heavy duty one that’s perfect for your average Kim, obviously I need about 10 packs of 25 for a start. That’s about £30.

New marking pens – my marking pen of choice is the Bic crystal 1.6 fashion colours , the green one you have to buy a boxes of 20, soi bought 2 because I had to, as there are 4 colours. The don’t cost that much but P&p does, marking pens £20.

My Costco trip  

Pack of 6 Pucka A4

Pack of 6 Pucka A5 wire bound

Pack of way more than I needed post its – they had new colours 😵

New label maker, last one died from over use , you know a typical teacher who a la Shelton labels the label on their label maker.

Costco stationary aisle spending £90.


Oh dear, they had new coloured tubs, a new range of storage options ,  they had white board pens in pretty colours , they had speech bubbles, scissors , they have packs of 3 for about 80p I need/want a class set of 32. Plus random other stuff. Cost £120.

Then meatballs for lunch! Of course!


My second ‘Oh dear’ moment , new dice, various numerical combinations , various sizes, various colours! New magnets, I’ve made my own magnet board peg holders, they are cute! My new array of random stationary items like page highlighters, page markers, random other stuff. I did well eBay spending was only £50.


New lunch box/ bag , I like the little ones that look like a hand bag, my Thomas the Tank one was laughed at so £5. 

New files I print out my planner , the ones you buy are brilliant but the paper is to thin so I need a new file for my new planner,  printed and dated a term at a time £5

Paper chase 

 new school diary, plus misc pretty things £40 

So I’m ready for tomorrow. I think:

Ive done a very rough calculation at 1440 ish
I didn’t  include all my new clothes,…Or my laminating pockets, 

I didn’t include my visit to the range as I went silly 

In my defence, I go a bit overboard:) 

Things to add 

I have just been reminded by @MissBsResources  about the tes I calculator offer this year , I bought 5 🙂 lots of teachers bought class sets