Monthly Archives: November 2015

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Why failing that trainee on mental arithmetic might fail SEN children.

 

According to ‘The Guardian’,

 

‘In the last three years nearly 2,000 people have been turned away from teacher training because of failing this exam.’ http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/nov/22/pass-teachers-numeracy-skills-test-quiz

 

What about the trainee who really struggles with mental arithmetic and cannot process these questions fast enough? Maybe that trainee’s own school experience inspired them to want to go out and make education better, to make the classroom a happier place. Should that vocational, potentially amazing teacher be excluded from the profession without exception?

 

The best teacher may not pass this test. The teacher who gets what it is to find things difficult, the teacher who will understand and find different approaches, and the teacher who may be best placed to support a child who learns differently.

 

Is this skills test removing some of the most amazing, creative, empathic teachers from our profession?

 

What is happening to education?

 

A child does not require a teacher who can answer mental arithmetic questions at speed.

A child DOES need a teacher who cares deeply about who they are, how they learn and finds out what sort or individual support they need.

A child needs the teacher who is completely motivated to raise their self esteem so that they will not fear having a go.

A child needs the teacher who cares deeply and does not judge them by their ability to fit into tick box criteria.

They need the teacher who loves their individuality, is able to see their way and adapt to their learning style. They need the teacher who creates, inspires and fights their corner.

Some of our most wonderful trainee teachers are currently being restricted from entering the profession because they cannot do the mental arithmetic they will never really need. We must speak up for them. We must speak up for the children who are set to miss out if we do not include them in our teacher workforce.

Why can’t we replace those 12 mental arithmetic questions with questions that test empathy, creativity and putting the relationship between the student and the teacher first?

Shift the focus back to what really matters and allow that teacher who does not juggle mental arithmetic to continue training, to follow their vocation, to go on to inspire, love and ‘get’ our wonderful, individual children.