Trainee teachers may face literacy and numeracy tests

Proposals to raise entry requirements for primary teacher training courses could be replaced with literacy and numeracy tests for applicants.

The alternative has been suggested by Professor Áine Hyland in a discussion document that will inform a review of how primary and second-level teachers are prepared for the classroom.

It has been requested by Education Minister Ruairí Quinn, who told the Dáil this month there is excessive and wasteful duplication, with more than 20 colleges providing dozens of courses.

A year ago, the Teaching Council published proposals to raise the minimum grades needed in Leaving Certificate maths, English, and Irish for entry to BEd programmes at colleges of education for primary teaching.

However, in the background document for the Higher Education Authority review, Prof Hyland points out those who got into BEd courses in recent years are in the top 15% of Leaving Certificate performers.

The lowest points score for entry has been around 470 out of 600 CAO points, and most entrants achieve much higher results.

Prof Hyland’s report said it has been suggested that entry requirements be raised to an even more demanding level to address concerns about levels of literacy and numeracy among trainees.

“However, the concern about standards of literacy and numeracy might more appropriately be addressed through the introduction of specific literacy and numeracy tests for applicants to initial teacher education programmes,” she wrote.

She said a 2010 review of teacher education in Scotland recommended a similar move and said allowances could be made for weaknesses to be addressed during teacher training.

A Teaching Council spokesperson said its proposals have yet to go to public consultation and there would be a long lead-in time before any changes to entry would be made.

However, the final decision on entry requirements would most likely be one for Mr Quinn.

Despite falling demand, almost 5,000 people have listed a teaching degree as their first preference on their CAO forms this year.


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