Higher maths proposal for teacher training courses


By Niall Murray Education Correspondent


HIGHER Leaving Certificate maths results could be a prerequisite for embarking on teacher training courses, if proposals from the profession’s regulator body are adopted.

The suggestion from the Teaching Council that the entry level maths requirements should be raised is part of a draft policy it has circulated on teacher education. 

“The council believes the time is now right for a thorough and fresh look at teacher education so as to ensure that tomorrow’s teachers are competent to meet the challenges that they face and are life-long learners, continually adapting over the course of their careers to enable them to support students’ learning,” says the draft policy on the continuum of teacher education. 

In line with reforms proposed by Education Minister Mary Coughlan, the council believes there should be greater focus on literacy and numeracy in initial teacher education and throughout teachers’ professional development. 

It proposes a review of the entry requirements and selection procedures for teacher training degrees, including the possible use of aptitude tests and interviews, considering the significance of relevant experience and the standard of academic achievement needed. 

“Having regard to the latter in particular, the council considers that the entry level maths requirement should be raised,” it states. 

For entry to the three-year bachelor of education (B Ed) degree held by most primary teachers, most colleges require school leavers to have a D3 or higher grade in ordinary or higher level Leaving Certificate maths. Applicants must also have at least a C in higher level Irish and, in English, they need at least either an ordinary level C or higher level D. 

Successful entrants to the four biggest B Ed courses last autumn all had at least 465 out of a maximum 600 CAO points. 

Ms Coughlan announced in November she wants the B Ed programme extended from three to four years and the postgraduate diploma in education (PGDE) needed to teach at second level doubled from one to two years. The Teaching Council also believes many teacher training courses are overloaded, saying they place too much emphasis on contact hours and assessment but not enough time is spent on developing skills needed to ensure teachers can adapt during their careers to changes in the classroom. 

A spokesman for the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, which has been seeking a major examination of pre-entry training, said increasing changes will be a feature of the future and that a four-year B Ed is essential. 

The Teaching Council draft policy also raises concerns about the negative impact on the profession, of many teachers remaining in part-time or short-term employment for extended periods before securing permanent jobs.

This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Thursday, January 20, 2011

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