Independent schools 'poaching trainees'

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The Independent Online

The teacher recruitment crisis could reach critical levels this summer as fee-paying schools poach trainees from the state sector.

The teacher recruitment crisis could reach critical levels this summer as fee-paying schools poach trainees from the state sector.

Independent schools are offering student teachers jobs without requiring them to pass the Government's new literacy and numeracy tests, Diana Brightling, the head of teacher training at Brighton University, warned yesterday. Student teachers who fear they will fail the tests are turning their backs on state schools and seeking no-strings job offers in the independent sector.

Headteachers and teacher trainers have called on the Government to scrap the tests, arguing that it is "crazy" to bar enthusiastic graduates from state schools during a recruitment crisis. The Government introduced the tests, in elementary maths and English, last year for trainees in England after concerns over standards. But up to one student in four at some training colleges is failing tests in basic numeracy, reports said last month.

To qualify, students have four attempts to pass each test before the end of their course. If they fail they are barred from working in state schools. From next year they will also be required to pass an examination on information and communication technology.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "Student teachers are already required to have good GCSE passes in English and maths to get on teacher training courses. At a time of such difficulty in teacher recruitment, it is crazy to turn people away."

Mary Russell, secretary of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said: "Many students who have failed the tests several times do not want to take the final attempt in case they fail and bar themselves from ever working in a state school. Instead, many are taking jobs at independent schools or are leaving teaching."

A spokesman for the Independent Schools Council said: "I would be very surprised if our members were taking on students who failed the basic literacy and numeracy tests. We would strongly advise them not to do this."

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