The publication of the Donaldson report this week has given us plenty of food for thought. Numeracy, Literacy and, horror of horrors, psychometric tests for prospective student teachers! Surely the entrance requirements for a PGDE or BEd course are proof enough of how numerate or literate a candidate is? However testing during the course with support for those who fall short may be a less controversial option if the powers that be insist on testing. As for the psychometric testing, is this to assess if a candidate is a suitable type of character? What type of person is a "typical" teacher? A quick scan round Tombs on a Monday morning will tell you it takes all sorts! And quite rightly so, we don't want a homogenised corporate-identified profession, we want diversity and interest and uniqueness in our teachers!
I do agree that the 4-year BEd could do with an overhaul, and it seems sensible to combine it with general study at University such as doing part of an Ordinary Degree in combination with a teaching degree. This would give more breadth and depth to the course.
Numeracy has been a big talking point this week, especially among us English students. Tuesday's English tutorial on Numeracy in the English classroom was lively and interesting and raised some important issues for us. A quick poll of English teachers would normally result in Literacy winning hands down over Numeracy in terms of importance to everyday life, however after much discussion many of us realised just how equally important both were. The main thrust of government argument would be that Literacy and Numeracy skills in our workforce are essential for economic development but the necessity for these skills goes further than that as they are life skills. We talked about issues of managing your money, coping with medicines, protecting yourself from unscrupulous credit card companies, understanding insurance policies etc the list was endless. In many ways giving this some serious thought was an eye-opener for us.
Lastly, we spent some time in Ed Studies looking at qualifications. As a pre-Standard Grader (I have O Grades - how ancient!) I was just about getting to grips with Standard Grades - Credit, General and Foundation - and Ints 1 and 2, and found them really confusing, as do many of my contemporaries. My son is in S2 and will be the last to sit Standard Grades, and my daughters will sit the new Nationals 4 and 5. Firstly I'm worried about the overload this is going to cause in my brain, but mainly I'm concerned about whether or not employers are going to understand what these new qualifications mean (given that many admit confusion about standard grade and intermediate). I also wonder what is going to happen to those kids who dont get a National 4 or 5? Will they have no qualification?