Opinion: The QTS is Stupid
The QTS exam, or the professional skills test for prospective teachers, is a series of exams (one Literacy and one Numeracy). Before an aspiring teacher can begin initial teacher training (ITT) they have to pass both of these exams. The exams are booked online and sat in a local(ish) test centre. The Literacy exam tests graduates with (on average) a 2:1 degree on their ability to spell, use basic punctuation and also tests their basic comprehension skills. The Numeracy exams test the candidates ability to do ‘mental maths’, like finding a percentage of a number, or converting a fraction to a decimal. Each mental question has an 18 second timer. The Numeracy test also tests the candidates ability to read a variety of graphs, like box-and-whisker diagrams and bar charts.
In February 2018 the government announced it would be allowing unlimited resits of the professional skills tests that must be passed before anyone can enter initial teacher training. Prior to this, a candidate was allowed three attempts at each test; if they failed to pass after those, then they would be subject to a two year lock-out period.
The move was viewed as an attempt by the government to encourage more entrants into teacher training after figures released last month showed that applications for training were down by 29 per cent compared with the same time last year.
Speaking at an event in London, James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, welcomed the change. However he said the government should go further by "getting rid of skills tests altogether".
Mr Noble-Rogers said the tests deserved to be abolished because there were "badly managed".
"A couple of years ago the system was in near meltdown - there weren’t enough places in skills test centres to accommodate all the people that wanted to take them," he said.
But Mr Noble-Rogers also said the test was "redundant" because initial teacher training providers already have entry criteria relating to literacy and numeracy.
"We already have GCSE entry requirements in maths and English for entry to ITT. If the government has confidence in their own GCSEs then the skills test are redundant.”
And I agree. When studying for the QTSs exam one does stumble on a clear paradox; either, the tests are pointless, or the 8 A*-B GCSEs, 4 A-Levels and Russell Group University degree, is pointless. If the former is true, why am I doing the test? If the latter is true, why am dedicating at least 2 years of my life to teaching the qualifications?