Would-be teachers will have to sit more difficult English and maths tests to qualify for teacher training, in an attempt to raise standards in the profession, says the government.
Under the proposals, anyone who wants to train as a teacher from next September will have to complete revamped tests in English essays and answer questions on maths topics including algebra.
A paper on verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning is also due to be introduced in the next few years. Ministers unveiled details of plans to overhaul tests taken by prospective teachers, saying it was an attempt to raise the status of the profession.
Calculators will no longer be allowed and the pass marks for both the English and maths tests will be raised again, the Department for Education said.
Under the current system, trainee teachers sit tests in literacy and numeracy towards the end of their teacher training course, and the latest figures showing that 98 per cent of people pass.
From this autumn, trainees have been limited to two re-sits for each paper and the pass mark has been raised for the first time.
It will be raised again over the next three years, with candidates eventually needing to score the equivalent of a grade B at GCSE to pass, said the department of education.
The real issue is the training and support that teachers are given once they have entered into teaching training. All too often the government is looking at ever shorter routes to qualifying as a teacher, including on the job training in schools. Christine Blower, NUT
The new maths test is likely to include questions on topics such as algebra and graphs, while the English paper will ask candidates to answer open-ended questions, with marks for spelling, punctuation and grammar.
Official figures show that rising numbers of trainee teachers are passing the tests on the first attempt.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said: “These changes will mean that parents can be confident that we have the best teachers coming into our classrooms. Above all, it will help ensure we raise standards in our schools and close the attainment gap between the rich and poor.”
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union said: “All teachers need strong literacy skills and also a good grasp of mathematics. It is however surprising that Michael Gove is showing such interest in the entry requirements for teacher training courses, while at the same time advocating that schools should be free to employ unqualified teachers.”
“The real issue is the training and support that teachers are given once they have entered into teaching training. All too often the government is looking at ever shorter routes to qualifying as a teacher, including on the job training in schools.”
Elsewhere, teachers have been blamed by a government minister for holding back children, leaving them with “depressingly low expectations” of what they could expect to achieve in life.
Liberal Democrat Education Minister David Laws said too many children were led to believe that top exam grades, places at elite universities and professional careers were beyond them.
Instead of being encouraged to “reach for the stars”, he said that even in relatively affluent areas, many young people saw a job with one of the big local employers in their town as the limit of their ambition.