Teaching courses may widen entry requirements

Primary teaching courses could revert to using interviews or aptitude tests as well as Leaving Certificate results to identify suitable students, under changes being considered by the profession.

There are already proposals to increase the standards needed in Irish, English and maths to be selected for the bachelor of education (BEd) programmes.

But as the inclusion of additional assessments to choose college entrants comes under consideration by third-level bosses, similar plans are already being examined for entry to teacher-training courses.

The Irish Examiner highlighted this week how the better performance of girls and their greater likelihood to study English and Irish at higher level could push the profession further beyond the reach of men.

However, the Teaching Council, which made the proposals last year, said consultations on those suggested changes have yet to begin.

The consultation period will start later this year, and there would be enough lead-in time for any changes to entry requirements to allow students make appropriate choices.

But as well as minimum Leaving Certificate grades, another Teaching Council policy document on teacher-training suggests a review of entry requirements span more than subject levels.

“Selection procedures for initial teacher education should assess, in so far as possible, the broad range of factors which may impact on the applicant’s suitability for entry to the profession,” it says.

It suggests a review of entry requirements and selection procedures, to consider the use of:

* Aptitude tests;

* Structured interviews;

* Significance of previous relevant experience;

* Subject quotas;

* Standard of academic achievement.

The proposals will follow the extension from next year of the BEd from a three to a four-year programme, in line with increased teaching qualification requirements under Education Minister Ruairi Quinn’s literacy and numeracy strategy.

A Teaching Council spokesperson said it will be for the minister to set any new entry requirements, based on consultation and advice from the council.

The developments are being considered as third level chiefs also look at widening selection methods for degrees and other courses, to include measurements other than Leaving Certificate performance. The Irish Universities Association is to report by the end of the year on its plans and the timescale for changes, which it is hoped could take effect in 2015.

In a report to Mr Quinn this week they recommended more general entry courses instead of students picking specialist degrees before starting college, and the option of widening bonus points for subjects other than maths.


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