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Call for young teachers to be tested on literacy level

Student teachers should be assessed on their reading, writing and numeracy skills before they qualify, a controversial report suggests.

It recommends that student teachers should take compulsory courses in the teaching and assessment of literacy and maths and should show their abilities to teach in these areas before they qualify.

The proposals are put forward in a draft policy paper from the Teaching Council, the statutory professional body for teaching in Ireland.

The draft was drawn up before the recent shock OECD report which revealed sharp declines in the standards of both reading and maths among Irish 15-year-olds.

The paper says that the time is right for a thorough and fresh look at teacher education. Entry requirements and selection procedures should be reviewed.

At present, primary teacher trainees are selected on the basis of their Leaving Cert points but the report says consideration should be given to the use of aptitude tests and structured interviews.

The entry level maths requirement should be raised, it suggests. At present, a pass in maths is all that is required. A review should explore ways of increasing entry to the profession by under-represented groups.

In addition, alternative ways of assessing competence in numeracy, literacy and Irish prior to entry into the profession should be assessed. So also should the current practice of using quotas for Gaeltacht applications at primary level.


Preparation of primary teachers should take four years instead of three and preparation for post-primary should take two instead of one. These programmes would then be eligible for recognition as part of a master's degree .

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The additional time should allow for extended school placement, increased emphasis on portfolio work and on the key strategic priorities of literacy, numeracy, ICT (information and communications technologies) and inclusion.

The report also calls for the administrative burden borne by principals to be addressed, so that they can be better facilitated in developing schools as learning communities.

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