QTS Maths- How exactly does requiring teachers to be “fast” at maths help our profession?

Before you read this post in its entirety I want you to set a countdown timer to 18 seconds and listen to this maths question. You may listen to it twice but at the start of the second listening you must start the timer. Once the 18 seconds is up you MUST STOP. If you have not written down the right answer in that time you have FAILED that question*

Did you get the right answer in the time allowed? Would you continue to get the right answer for each of the next twelve mental arithmetic questions in 18 seconds each bearing in mind you can only hear the question and not see it? Then also go onto do 16 more maths questions over the next 40 minutes. You need to get 18 marks in order to pass the QTS maths test. You can try the QTS maths test here if you want.

Now imagine you are someone who has just spent four years of their life doing a BEd in Primary Education. For the first three years of your course you knew you could do the QTS tests at any point and have as many goes as you wanted, but in your final year you were informed this had now changed and you now only have three goes at it plus the pass mark had been increased to 63% (although 18/28 is actually a 64.3% pass mark).

The goalposts have suddenly changed. Now each time you do the test you are under considerable pressure. You pass the literacy test first time, but sadly you fail the maths test, first time on the mental arithmetic section by four marks. Deep breath and you try it again…………. again you fail on the mental arithmetic section by 4 marks, you can get the right answer but just not quite quick enough. Several times you are just about to put the right answer in but the box disappears as the 18 seconds are up and you have missed it by a second.

You take time before you take your third and final test, you spend weeks and weeks revising and preparing for your final chance at this test. Four years of your life are riding on this. You have just been given your dream job at a lovely yet challenging school. The head and governors are really excited about having you start and you are due to start within weeks.

The pressure this time for your last chance at this test is now insane. Again you sadly fail the mental arithmetic test BY FOUR MARKS. Because you are just not quite quick enough to answer mental arithmetic quite fast enough for the arbitrary speeds set by the government. Because the pressure of answering each question in only 18 seconds is already too much and added to that the pressure of how much you have riding on this means that you are flustered and frantic, desperate to get it right but also aware 18 seconds just isn’t quite enough time for you to process the auditory info, do the calculations and get the right answer in everytime. If you had just a few more seconds per question or could read instead of hear the question in all likelihood you would have passed the QTS Maths test and been able to become the teacher you always wanted to be.


You are not permitted to retake the tests for another 2 years, the dream job offer you had now has to be rescinded. The head and interview panel are devastated they can’t employ you. You are devastated you cannot be employed as a teacher in this school where you could have made a real difference. The real kicker is if your dream school was an academy this wouldn’t have mattered and you could have started your dream job.

But you can’t just because of FOUR marks in an auditory mental arithmetic test.

The thing is you are passionate about teaching and absolutely brilliant with kids. You already have a C in your GCSE maths, showing you have a good enough grounding in maths, and although maths isn’t a strong point you have really worked hard at it and all your observations for maths teaching at primary level have been absolutely fine, because you have worked hard to understand and overcome barriers in maths and so can really help children with those same issues. But just because you are not quite fast enough at maths, because for 4 questions you didn’t manage to get them done in 18 seconds then you are prevented from becoming a teacher for the next 2 years.

How do you feel?

This just happened to a friend of mine. I’m so angry about it. She is exactly the sort of primary teacher I want for my kids. In fact my kids absolutely adore her and she is brilliant with them. She just knows how to get onto their level and inspire them to inquire about the world. But simply because she can’t do maths “FAST” enough. She has just lost out on a job where she would have been awesome and the school and kids are losing out.

Seriously is the benchmark of a good teacher being able to do “fast maths”? Really? How utterly bonkers?! I couldn’t give a stuff how fast you can work out the proportion of money going to a charity, I care that you can teach my kids well and inspire them to learn.

I suspect I might now fail QTS maths if I had to resit and so would many of my colleagues. I can’t do maths under pressure. Never have been able to. I also can’t work as well if hearing a question and not seeing it in front of me. Should we be barred from teaching as a result? If this test was applied across the profession I suspect many incredible teachers would lose their QTS. Just because we some of us are fast enough at maths or not as good at auditory mathematical processing than visual mathematical processing. I understand and respect the need for teachers to be literate and numerate but emphasising speed over accuracy in maths is just plain wrong (also I wonder if “Troops to teachers” will be expected to do the QTS maths tests?)

It’s a joke it really is. Except an unfunny joke that has put my friends life on hold for the next two years. I don’t know if she will become a teacher now and if she doesn’t that will be a significant loss to a profession that would have really benefited from having her.

Shame on you DfE, Shame on you. Yet another way you are currently destroying the teaching workforce.

* The question from the recording was this:

Six hundred and thirty pupils paid fifty pence each on a charity day. The money collected was divided equally between three local charities.

How much did each of the charities receive?

Remember you are not allowed to see the question only hear it and you have 18 seconds from the start of the second reading of the question. Could you do it in time?


234 thoughts on “QTS Maths- How exactly does requiring teachers to be “fast” at maths help our profession?

  1. In all honesty I answered that question correctly immediately. I don’t think it would be unreasonable to ask a maths teacher to be able to do that sort of simple arithmetic mentally.

    • But did you do it by listening to it or by reading it? Two very different skills. Reading it is straightforward. Listening to it and trying to remember the three numbers and what you have to do to them to get the right answer is much harder. The second reading of the question enables you to double check you got the numbers and what you need to do to them correct. But the reading takes about 10secs out of your time. Thus you actually have about 8seconds left to answer the question.

    • Also she is a primary teacher not solely a maths teacher – yes maths will be a large part of her job (which she has proved she can do in all her observations)but this requirement for fast auditory processed maths is ridiculous.

      • Aha, a bit of cross-posting there.

        I just tried the question on my husband. He answered it correctly on first listen in 10 seconds. He agrees that it’s not an unreasonable thing to ask a primary teacher to do, but we both recognise there is a great deal of pressure for those doing that in an exam situation.

        On further reflection I do think it would be very useful for all primary teachers to be confident enough with mental arithmetic to breeze through those sorts of questions, but in the real world I wouldn’t make it an absolute condition of employment. There are other more important factors to consider.

      • Initially I misheard the first number as 650 as you can imagine I was tying self in knots to get that divided by three in my head hence failing the question! I’m a science teacher so reasonably numerate (although my strength is definitely literacy) but I cannot do auditory mathematical processing- I need to see numbers, and under pressured test conditions I’d probably fall apart like my friend did. I think it’s a particular (and unusual) skill to learn and while some people will be fine like you and your husband (and my husband) others will really struggle to master it, and it should not be the final benchmark of becoming a teacher.

    • So did I – but this is the first question of a twelve-question exam, and this is the easiest of the three questions I managed to get through before closing the window in frustration.

    • No, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to ask a maths teacher that question, but I think what the author is saying is that perhaps it is unreasonable to ask a primary teacher to be able to do that mentally. I do agree it is harder when listening the question rather than reading it too.

    • I agree that it’s not unreasonable to ask a teacher to be able to do the sums, but the arbitrary time limit is pointless. A teacher needs to get it right and to be able to show the simple steps taken to do so, not intuitively get questions right as some kind of party trick.

    • she’s not a “Maths teacher” – she’d applied to be a primary teacher, if she were to be teaching KS1 she’d never encounter a problem of that level in the syllabus, and even if she intended to work in KS2 it sounds as though she has other strengths that would have made her an excellent teacher, worth employing despite this weakness.

  2. Then again I might not have passed the reading comprehension part of the test, because on second reading I see your friend is aiming to be a primary teacher, not a maths teacher. I think being able to do that sort of calculation mentally isn’t an unreasonable goal for any teacher, but for someone who does well in all other areas, it shouldn’t be a single point of failure.

    • I don’t mean to take over your comments section, but we have a friend staying with us. He did a history degree and hasn’t yet had his coffee. I played the question for him and he answered it correctly without hesitation.

      It might be helpful to know the percentage of people who do pass this test, to understand whether it is being unfairly implemented. I don’t want to be harsh – especially as this is a personal issue for you and your friend and because I agree that it’s not the most important thing – but if a reasonable percentage of people who want to become primary teachers can pass this test, I can only see that as a good thing.

      What I don’t want, though, is a perpetuation of a shortage of good primary school teachers where this sort of test is the only thing stopping good people from progressing. In an ideal world I would encourage more applications from people who are as good as your friend and who can _also_ do mental arithmetic, but there may be a difference between reality and the ideal.

    • Good for you. Do you think you would do as well in all 12 plus the other 18questions under test conditions with 4years of your life riding on this, especially if you were an anxious person? As a model it may suit some people but others are missing out because they just cannot process mathematical information in that way.

      • I don’t know. I have dyspraxia so usually struggle with numbers and mental arithmetic. Your friend sounds like a brilliant teacher and in my mind attitude and passion should over-ride a silly mistake in a maths test.

      • I’m on my last attempt and have terrible dyslexia. My life might just be put on hold too for two years should I fail these pointless tests.

  3. I don’t think trying one question really reproduces the sense of overwhelming, mind-numbing pressure some people feel when confronted with this sort of test. I feel so sorry for your friend: I know some excellent teachers who needed multiple attempts to pass. Encourage her to hang on in there.

  4. I am not a mathematician – far from it – and I think the system is completely flawed, but before I listened to it, I thought it would be some great big saga of a question and it wasn’t. Admittedly, it would be preferable for the test to happen at the beginning of the four years, rather than after, and it would be interesting to know if the results were much different given a more generous time allowance. However, I think you raise a couple of points that I want to comment on. First, you have to be a talented teacher AND good at the subjects you intend to teach. At primary, that includes maths. Secondly, it’s just about the highest-pressure job and I’m sorry to say that anyone anxious is probably lining themselves up for a horrible time. I don’t think that anyone should be failed on a forty-minute test, but neither do I think someone should come into the profession if they are nervous about an aspect of it. The best (English) teacher I ever appointed had an B at English A level, a third from her university and shone in the classroom; her English abilities obviously hadn’t been reflected in her results and I’d have kicked myself if I’d missed out on her. On the other hand, I watched an NQT do a lesson (I was an inspector) in front of me and say that less and fewer were interchangeable. In fact, she’d chosen to do her lesson on it. I cringed and had to give her an unsatisfactory. Skills shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all of a teacher, but they are important. It’s a tough call and I think the real truth of the matter is that you can’t measure ‘soft’ qualitative data (like how good a teacher someone will be) with a quantitative test. Welcome to the world of education! Your friend’s experience perfectly reflects the world of education in England.

    • Thanks for the response. I dealt with how she teaches maths in the post. As far as I know she teaches it well precisely because she understands areas where people struggle (all observations reflect this). Secondly stress/anxiety caused by test conditions does not equate to a generally stressed/anxious person. She would be fine in a high pressure teaching job (she deliberately went for and was accepted at a challenging school because she knows she could cope) no-one is denying teaching is stressful but getting stressed in exam conditions when a 40minute exam can make the last 4years of your life a waste of time, does not mean you wouldn’t be able to cope with the day to day stress of teaching. She has had 4years practice of being a teacher- she knows what it entails.

      • I have just failed the Maths test for the third time. I have been training to be a DT Food teacher for four years and now I can’t move forward to the career I had hoped for. I failed by 2 points ! Help please, any ideas anyone?

    • Also I am a qualified science teacher (admittedly now sex education advisory teacher). An expectation of my PGCE was to teach physics to KS3 but most science teachers myself included are often expected to teach physics to KS4. My background is Biology. I’m an awesome biology teacher, a decent chemistry teacher and to be honest a fairly crap physics teacher. Yes teachers do need a reasonably broad balanced skill set but as with anyone there are strengths and weaknesses to subject knowledge. It’s up to schools to ensure the skill set of the teachers is broadly balanced (not have a science dept made up solely of biologists for example, or a primary school of solely English or history grads) so that subject specialists can learn from each other whilst on the job. Now I can turn my hand to a reasonable physics lesson thanks to my colleagues (but thankfully I won’t have to any more!).

  5. Hi, thanks for taking the time to write this article. Due to Gove’s rule changes current PGCE and BA Primary Education students have less than a month in which to pass the QTS skills tests. Failure to pass these tests will make it very difficult to get a teaching post in England.
    I have trained many hundreds of students to pass this horrendous test, both as a university numeracy specialist and now a freelance tutor. Whilst I think it is vital for primary teachers to be confident and able with maths, this test is far from an ideal means of evaluating this.
    I have come across many highly engaging trainee teachers who have been graded ‘outstanding’ on placements, but who struggle with the test, mainly due to nerves, rather than ability.

    The time allowed to answer mental arithmetic questions is 18 seconds after the second reading is complete, not at the start of the second reading, as you suggested. So, depending on how long it takes to read the question out candidates may get up to a minute to answer the question. I find that students begin to pass the test overall when they can get 6 out of 12 correct on the mental part so it’s a bit easier than you suggest to pass. Using figures from before the rule changes came in to effect around 80% of students pass first time and 97% pass at the third attempt on sooner. I am very keen to know how the new rules have affected the pass rates.

    Best of luck to all who will take this exam. Practising mock exam questions will help immensely in preparing for the test as you will begin to spot the methods needed to answer questions. The test is heavily biased towards knowledge of percentages, decimals and fractions, plus a few graph types such as Box and Whisker diagrams, pie charts and scatter diagrams.

    It is likely that the pass mark will increase to 19 out of 28 from September 2013 and again in 2014. After that a completely revamped test is due to be introduced and judging from the sample questions will be a very much tougher challenge, including questions on logic, probability and algebra. Best to take the test sooner rather than later!


    • Can you tell me where you got the information about the increased pass mark and the introduction of the revamped tests? I haven’t been able to find any definite information about this at all. The Final Report of the Skills Test Review Panel says the revamped tests should be introduced “from September 2013”, but when I contact the DfE they know nothing about it!

  6. The skills test team have got back to me about queries I posed via twitter:
    Mental arithmetic questions:

    The ability to calculate mentally, accurately and rapidly, in everyday and educational contexts is considered to be an important aspect of a teacher’s professional duties. Full details of the current numeracy test can be found via the skills tests section of the DfE website: http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/careers/traininganddevelopment/professional

    Appeals process:
    These are automatically marked tests, so there is no appeals process. Technical issues or other problems with test delivery should be raised at the time of the test. For further information please contact the skills tests helpline on 0845 450 8867. After 2 years you will be eligible for three more attempts.

  7. I’m a science teacher and I did a masters in astrophysics. I also have dyscalculia. It takes me longer to arrive at the right answer and I definitely need to see things written down.
    I did fine with tensor analysis and statistical mechanics in my degree, despite being a mental-maths lummox. (If success in physics was dependent on being able to work sums out in my head, I would have never graduated.)
    All the stuff I need numeracy for in my job: I can do in my own sweet time. For example, working on spreadsheets, working out percentages in tests, finding out how long something takes etc.
    As for showing working on the board, when I get to a calculation, I just say “Who can get the answer before me?” and so it does not matter that I’m learning disabled. And because I’m a good teacher I don’t go “ahh yes, Kevin, 6×9 is 42,” I say “Is Kevin right? Does anyone have a different answer?” until we get there together.
    I trained as a teacher in Wales so I didn’t have to do any of these ridiculous tests. Everyone should train in Wales right now.

    • You sound an ace teacher. 🙂 I’m pondering if it might be worth getting my friend assessed for dyscalculia.

  8. A lot of things across the education system are based on arbitrary ways of assessing whether or not something is adequate. Look at the proportion of pupils that are expected to get a certain grade, and how society is supposed to value these cold results and percentages that are marked down on paper. There have got to be more humane and appropriate ways of assessing.

  9. Would seem to make more sense to have the test at the start of the course, so people unable to do simple maths don’t waste four years doing a course aiming for a job they can’t do.

    • They have bought that in for applicants from this September but that wasn’t the case when she started her course.

  10. I recently took part in a pilot for next years maths skills tests, and the auditory section had been removed. I’d always thought it was a ridiculous requirement, even though I’m quite good at mental arithmetic. The new tests are more difficult, although the final versions will depend on the feedback they received from the participants.

    • Thanks for commenting. Hope my friend will pass next time, such a shame she has to wait two years though. If they keep getting harder at this rate they will be degree level maths before long!

    • Hi Craig

      Are you permitted to say what feedback you gave? Or what the general consensus was – if you have been privy to any of it. It seems to be a long time from June to now and still no update on the DfE website or new materials for potential students to be able to revise with. Thanks

  11. I think the problem is not the exam, or how hard or easy it might be, but rather the moving of the goal posts so late in the process. If you knew what the exam(s) would be like 4 years ago, then could you prepare as part of your training?

    • Exactly. She wishes she had done them at the start of the course but back then actually being a teacher felt like a long way off. All her peers left it until their final year too but they chanced the goalposts in that year which doesn’t seem fair at all. Sounds like the tests are changing again so she will have to learn different techniques to pass the next set when she is allowed to resit in 2years.

  12. I hate to be harsh but if a maths teacher can’t rattle off answers to questions as simple as that immediately (let alone after 18 seconds), they should not be in front of a class. And it’s easy to say “oh I missed by just a few marks – but the whole point is that you have a clear test with a pass or fail. Standards in schools have been too low for too long, as I’m afraid this blog post bears out. It seems reasonable that if people can’t pass the tests they have to do something else.

    • I don’t mean to be harsh but if it’s all about the standards, your reading comprehension could do with some work. She hasn’t trained to be a maths teacher! She is a primary teacher where a small proportion of teaching would be maths which she has proved she can do just fine by passing all her maths observations.

    • I have been graded as an outstanding trainee teacher every year for the past four years, I also have a first class degree with honours, which I received a final overall grade of 83. However, I have failed the maths QTS skills test twice by 2 marks. A few ladies on my course failed their final teaching placements and were graded as a ’cause for concern’ and received a 3rd for their degree, yet they have passed the maths QTS skills test. Does this make them a better teacher than me? I know who I would rather have teaching mt children.

  13. I must admit that I did find this test quite easy. I don’t believe it’s unreasonable to expect a maths teacher, at any level, to be able to achieve this level of comfort with numbers. We do expect our English teachers to be able to recognise bad spelling quickly, without looking everything up in a dictionary, don’t we? However, the fact that the rules have changed suddenly is another matter and clearly harsh for the first generation taking a new test.

    The deeper problem is that a trainee teacher who struggles to do fast mental arithmetic is probably a victim of inadequate teaching in childhood themselves. Maths has historically been so poorly taught that it has become considered by many to require a special “talent”, when in fact it’s a life skill – certainly no harder than learning to drive a car! Unfortunately, many of Michael Gove’s dumb ideas seem to actually lionise the kind of rote, mindless learning that left most of us, bored and alienated by maths in childhood. I had a wonderful maths teacher for just one year when I was ten. In that time I went from being very ordinary at mental arithmetic to being “exceptional” – along with all twenty-seven of my classmates. Were we all gifted? No. But that teacher was obsessed with being able to do arithmetic quickly and would test us every single day for five minutes – questions were given orally only.

    The author above trivialises the importance of this skill. But in adulthood the ability to do mental arithmetic fast is, in fact, invaluable in practical situations: shops, banks, online shopping etc. We don’t always have the opportunity to write things down. I would be concerned if a teacher doesn’t even seem to acknowledge this, especially if it’s merely informed by their own shortcomings. Arithmetic is to maths what grammar is to writing – it’s rarely an end in itself but empowers us to express bigger ideas or explore deeper arguments. And being able to think fast, especially in the relatively simple terms expressed in the oral test, is extremely useful for us and our children. So if the trainee teacher is struggling to pass that test they need to find a better teacher – because I think 99% of ordinary people could comfortably surpass this standard in one month, given the right training. As for the remaining 1% – I don’t really want them teaching maths to my children.

    • My priorities for my children involve their teachers help them develop values around the wider world, accepting people’s differences and that you can’t be good at everything but trying your best is crucial. Yes of course maths is important, there is no denying that, and yes sometimes you do need to work things out fast like working out change in a shop but these QTS maths questions are always in two parts, which in the real world wouldn’t be the usual requirement of the times you need to do “fast maths” and if you needed extra time in the real world you can have longer than 18seconds if you need. The worst that is going to happen to you is that someone in the queue behind tuts at you.
      This teacher failed this particular aspect of the test not because she can’t teach maths (her observations have proved she can) but because her brain freezes in high pressure situations with so much riding on the answer. If someone had a gun to your head I would love to see how good your maths is then!

      • That’s exactly how I felt- like there was a gun to my head, and if I failed, all my dreams of being a teacher would go up in smoke. Before taking the qts tests, I had been offered a place on the School Direct course , after years of study, including taking maths and science GCSE. However, I needed to pass the numeracy test before I started. I failed twice. ( I found the literacy less daunting and passed.) The stress was immense and I suffered from all kinds of physical reactions – nausea, painful stomach cramps, palpitations, spots, fear induced brain freeze! I’m usually quite a steady calm person. I felt so bad that my husband had to come with me to literally hold my hand before I went in. Him being with me helped a lot, and I was able to actually eat breakfast before the test! Thankfully, I passed on the final attempt. I cried with relief! I dread to think how I would have felt if I had failed! I feel for your friend! The actually maths is quite easy. It’s the pressure and the time span that makes it difficult. Also having to input the answers quickly using a key board is tricky. I do hope she doesn’t give up.

      • I have also just finished my four year part time degree leaving my skills tests last. I passed my literacy but have just failed my final maths and I’m absolutely devastated! Four years down the drain and having to wait 2 years to re-sit is ridiculous!! The last test I felt so much under pressure and couldn’t think straight. All I kept thinking about was the 2 year wait and completely went into melt down! It’s so not fair and yes I do agree with the tests, they are good to keep us on our toes but not to lock us out for 2 years after working so hard, even for those wanting to start a career in teaching having to wait so long is disheartening! Maybe we should change the rules for entry into university for politicians! Or do they all need degrees? Let’s test them!!!!

  14. Having just past both my QTS tests I genuinely feel for your friend,
    I was in a similar situation, whereby I needed to pass the tests before July in order to start my PGCE in September.
    I left my job in March after receiving a conditional offer (passing the QTS tests) for the course.
    That’s a lot of pressure for two tests.
    As I explained on my university interview, numeracy is not my most comfortable area.
    I achieved a C at GCSE, but that was ten years ago. And in my original employment path, I’ve not had much call to use such numeracy as found in the QTS tests.
    Similar to your friend, I struggled with the mental maths part of the test. Left to my own devices I have no issues with the questions, but my brain seemed to freeze up under the pressure of answering in a short period of time..
    I understand that people would expect a teacher to be able to pass the test relatively easily – to be honest I thought that same thing myself before embarking on the process. “If you can’t pass it then teaching isn’t for you,” I said to myself.
    But how many people, especially the ones who found it so easy to conjure up the answer, feel comfortable actually standing in front of a class of pupils, let alone delivering a lesson that inspires the children?
    It sounds like your friend, if she decides on another path, would be a loss to teaching. And for what? Because she can’t answer a maths question in a short space of time. Brilliant!

    • How many excellent teachers will we lose? Like Ian, maths isn’t my strongest point and I retook my GCSE in order to get on to my BEd. I’m still much more numerate than many people I know (I only have to look at those struggling to work out offers in supermarkets to gain more confidence in my maths). The irony that I’m training myself to pass this test is not lost on me…

  15. I think there are a number of issues with the test, not least the (1) auditory presentation which makes processing the maths facts harder.

    There are also issues with (2) working memory, as some studies argue that working memory deficits can impair performance on (typically) written arithmetical problem solving tasks, so factor in the auditory presentation format and you are likely putting extra strain on working memory. In one question the test taker was required to recall 6 maths facts, then do a number of calculations, recall the results of those to then do more calculations and reach an answer. Working memory is believed to have a limited capacity and in adults is typically quantified as 7 +/- 2

    In order to solve an arithmetic word problem, one needs to remember the necessary maths facts that have been presented, complete multi-stage calculations and then report the response in the way specified by the test which brings me to my third issue (3) screen it indicated that the test taker might have to type in a box, drag an item to the correct place along with a number of other ways to record a response. This would likely slow a response time and increases the cognitive demands of the maths task.

    A further issue would of course be (4) anxiety, either test anxiety or maths anxiety, both of which we know impair cognitive performance and response times.

    On a personal level I would fail that task. I cannot do mental arithmetic with any speed and often resort to immature strategies, such as finger counting. In the 6 maths fact question I had completely forgotten the first two numerical facts. In terms of my background, I have a BSc, an Alternative Maths for Intending Teachers certificate (AMFIT) and I am days away from submitting my PhD thesis containing a great deal of maths and statistics, so it is fair to say I am not innumerate.

    Does anyone know if the allowed response time that has been set has any empirical grounding?

  16. I’ve got a first class degree in maths. I’d worked out the answer before she’d finished reading out the question (it seemed obvious where it was going). Just the sort that Gove is looking for.

    During my primary placement in an ill-advised PGCE course, I reduced a girl to tears because she was so confused by my feeble attempts to explain division to the class. I was way better at teaching English (I’ve got an ‘O’ level grade C), simply because I had more understanding of the problems they were having.

    I also have a bit of an issue with these mental arithmetic problems because they break the first rule of maths teaching. SHOW YOUR WORKING!

  17. No one has commented on the fact that the teacher doesn’t need this teach in an academy (or a free school, presumably). If Mr Gove really understood maths, he would know that he is making the test harder and harder to pass as a requirement to teach in a smaller and smaller proportion of English schools. Eventually (at the limit, Mr Gove), everyone will fail but no one will be affected.

    PS I was a child whiz at mental and written arithmetic, had an easy ride at school. But my hearing is now slightly affected and I spent several precious seconds wondering if I heard the “630” correctly – was it a different number? Presumably there is a proportion of potential teachers who, like me, can hear well enough for ordinary life, but maybe not for critical applications like this test. DDA options?

    • I work in an Academy and have to pass the skills skills before I start my teaching course. I’m sorry, but you have been misinformed.

      • That is how the law currently is, but there were two/three cohorts of teachers caught up in this when they changed the rules midway through people’s courses.

  18. “to teach in an academy”, not “teach in an academy”. It was a typo, Mr Gove, honestly, don’t fail me on the English test!

  19. Great post. I totally agree with the fact that ALL teachers shod be literate and numerate, but isn’t that the point of minimum grades at GCSE and A Level? Ok, you don’t need A Level maths or English to get on to a BEd or postgraduate ITT (as far as I’m aware) but you do need at least a C in maths and English at GCSE , and science if you intend to teach primary. These ‘skills’ tests aren’t designed to see how well you’d teach literacy or numeracy (that’s what your degree, placement and/or ITT does), they are simply designed to prove yet again you are literate and numerate. Before the end of this year at uni (I’m doing a BEd in science education with QTS) I had course rep meeting where our course leader was telling us about a final year student who had failed the numeracy tests 3 times. She was routinely scoring 80-90%+ on the practice tests, yet when in the test center she was so nervous she could barely move the mouse and failed. On her final placement she was rated ‘good’. How are these tests, with this kind of pressure, fair? When I started the course 3 years ago, trainee teachers could take the tests as many times as they wanted, many used them as practice and passed. The mental arithmetic was timed, but there ain’t too much pressure. You wouldn’t have wasted 4 years to have failed at the last hurdle. It’s my final year this year and if I fail I can’t teach for 2 years. You now have to pass these tests prior to starting any teacher training, but if you fail you can’t retake for 2 years either. Imagine if you’d got a maths degree and failed due to the undue pressure? My maths is fine but under pressure, I’m not so sure. As a single parent I can’t afford to fail these tests, not that any trainee teacher now can. But what we’d I know? I’m not a failed journalist from Eaton…

  20. That’s me! That’s exactly how I feel. I have one more chance, booked for Tuesday.

    I can just feel it all slipping away 😦

      • I failed.
        The world fell apart momentarily.
        Luckily for me I was supported by some amazing people and am now working in my dream school.
        My head teachers were both (new and old school) outstanding, as was my training provider.
        I re-sit in two years.
        I’m not giving up.
        I’ll be a head teacher one day!


      • I’m teaching. One of a minority I fear, on the unqualified pay scale. Lost out slightly, my employers acknowledged my worth and restored my faith in the education system. I have my own class and all NQT privileges.

        Lucky! working my arse off too! 🙂

      • Oh Carly, I’m so happy for you – good to hear someone has had a bit of common sense and gone with their gut instincts about you. And yeah I’m sure you’re working your backside off – but bet you don’t mind that. Well done love xxx

  21. In a relax environment I think most people could but put yourself in a test environment with your dream job and four years of hard work and debt resting on it think it would be a lot harder I feel for these people my heart goes out to them. I think the teaching world losses a lot of good teachers because of these. 18 secounds would not come in to play in a class room environment.

  22. I think I may know your friend and have been in touch with her.
    I am in this position and I failed by an INFURIATING 1 MARK on my second and third attempts!!!
    I have been in touch with my local MP who has contacted David Laws, the Minister of State for Schools. He basically said the two year waiting period is seen as a sufficient amount of time to get your maths skills to the appropriate level to pass the test! I failed by 1 mark…I do not need 2 years, this is ridiculous! He advised that I look at a website to practice for my re-sits, but having researched the tests further I too have come across information that the test levels are going to be raised from the current GCSE grade C to GCSE grade B…so it’ll be even harder to pass them in 2 years time!
    There is no appeals procedure unless there was a technical error during the actual test. There seems to be very little information about the changes and the implications for people qualifying after 4 years of hard study with no QTS! I passed my degree with a 2.1 and was graded ‘outstanding’ on my final teaching practice. Yet others I know have failed numerous placements but will be teaching a classroom full of children before me because they can answer these questions within the allotted time! I am now having to be employed as an LSA as the school that I was offered a job at are now unable to employ me as an unqualified teacher due to changes to employment legislation as of April 2013!
    The government seem to have made it impossible for anybody in this position to actually use their teaching degree in any way…unless it’s in one of their ‘free schools’ where QTS is not required! Because that makes sense…’raising standards of people wishing to join the teaching profession’ but encouraging any parent, charity or business to set up and teach our future generations, whether they have any experience or qualifications in child care and education or not!!!

    I too suffer from maths anxiety and as an Early Years specialist we were taught more EY based maths throughout the course rather than mental arithmetic etc, this I feel has had me at a disadvantage! I was a mature student who took my GCSEs over 10 years ago so exams instantly make me feel nervous and the pressure on passing these tests is immense.

    I have now been advised to try and get this matter raised within the media, as bringing in these new rules in the final year of our course is ludicrous and unfair!
    We were told that we were not eligible to take these tests until after September 2013, as we needed to be in our final year of study, hence the new rules applied to our cohort. And yet I am aware of 3 people that took the tests before September 2013 and passed according to the old pass rate and could have potentially taken the test more than 3 times if they needed to up until Sept! Our course co-ordinator at university said she was made aware of this and that there are ‘many discrepancies’ with the introduction of the new rules!
    The whole situation is so unclear and infuriating…I am determined to continue fighting for the right to my QTS before the two year ‘locked out’ period and will be doing so for others in the same situation too.

  23. I feel for your friend I really do! I have one chance left and the nearer my test date gets the more I panic about it.
    If there was no limit on the amount of times you could take it, I imagine your friend would have been fine and passed it no problem. It’s the added pressure of losing your dream career that makes anything you have revised disappear in the test centre.
    It all seems so unfair!

  24. I know how your friend feels, I passed my literacy test, but failed my 3 attempt at math yesterday. I trained on a GTP course in which I was in the classroom teaching from day one. I was Ofsteaded twice, in which I receive good and good with outstanding features, I had weekly observations in which I received the same results. The kids in my class all came out with good or better than expected grades. And now thanks to these tests I can’t teach for another two years. Quite frankly I think the whole systems is a load of draconian shite. I helped to train some students who have passed their QTS test but aren’t ready for the classroom. I have the option of going back as a TA, working under a NQT. I have all the respect in the world for TA’s but I didn’t train and work to do that. I have spent countless nights working at my desk until 3 in the morning planning as well trying to get my portfolios together. All that hard work for a ‘two year prison sentence‘. I had a job lined up, I could finally move out of my parents house and get started on a career that I love and feel passionate about. That is all tainted; I’m now stuck at home with nada!!
    I’m not sure what to do? There’s nothing worse than having no purpose and due to Mr Gove’s ridiculous rules I’m stuck in a rut. If the government wants the ‘best of the best’ then they’re in the completely wrong ball game. The graduates with the high flying degrees go on to work in the industry that they trained in. You don’t get many civil engineers, lawyers or doctors going into teaching unless they realise it’s their calling. I went into teaching because I was a TA and after my first day realised this is exactly what I want to do.
    The pressure of passing by my third attempt got to me and subsequently failed the test by 1 mark on three occasions, the pressure of thinking If I don’t pass this test then I’m back to square one, no house, no car no nothing was all too much.
    I think the ‘3 stikes rule’ is a joke. I have friends who are heads of departments who had to take the test more than 3 times. The amount of personal sacrifices I have made to make myself the best possible teaching I could be. The delight of getting up in the morning knowing I have 30 children waiting and excited just to come to school and be passionate about what I was teaching made the world all that bit brighter.
    I now have to tell all my friends I am no longer a teacher, I have to inform my head teaching who paid for my course that I let her down, I have to tell my best friend I can’t move in with him, I have to inform my course tutors that I failed, I have to tell my grandparent who were so proud of being a trainee teacher that I failed and most of all I’m going to be stuck in the same place I started. So I’m feeling pretty low at the moment.
    I think the rule of passing the QTS test before starting the course is a good idea, but to implement it whilst you’re on a course is a joke. It doesn’t make sense to fail a course that you passed with flying colours because you failed the entrance exam. The nature of my course was to nurture young teachers into someone who could inspire not to shove someone in the classroom who can pass a little test but can’t motivate children.

    Sorry about all the punctuation and grammatical errors I just wrote this as it came out.


    • Please don’t give up.
      I’m in the same boat.
      I know that I’m born to do this job.
      I was very fortunate that both my employing GT school and my new school (where I’d secured a post before I failed the third time) both offered me jobs as an unqualified teacher.
      Less pay but with the same benefits. It is absolutely possible for schools to do this… Please ask? Beg if you need to.

      I plan to work so hard in my first year so that they’ll never let me go. I know that I can teach the children. Moreover, I have enormous potential. Like you do. Anybody that can get through the GT year does. I was ‘Ofsteded’ as Outstanding. The inspector was delighted with me, both times.

      I know exactly how you feel and there are others on my course on exactly the same position. I failed by 1 mark twice and then completely went to pieces the last time, ended up off work with stress and exhaustion.

      Remember that it is a crap system that is FAILING YOU AND THE CHILDREN. Not you failing.


      Ps… I studied part time for 7 years to get my degree too!

      Kindest regards, Carly xx

      • Thanks Carly, as bad as it sounds its comforting to know that someone in the same boat can turn a negative into a positive. I am very much a fan of your positive attitude. I feel slightly silly for posting the comment, I just felt that i was the only one in this situation as everyone on my course has passed now. I’m going to take a few days to just think and sort my head out. I have a few options, I was thinking of doing a TEFL course for and keep myself in education that way.
        Anywho thank you for your reply and I wish you the best of luck with your teaching, the kids in your class are lucky to have a teacher with such a posstive outlook .


    • I’m on my last attempt and passed my GTP as “Outstanding”. I’m on my last test for literacy and feel your pain. I can’t get a mortgage, move out, basically get on with my life without this. I have really bad dyslexia and only just been told I could possibly get 50% extra time, after paying £250 for an addendum to be made in a report.

    • I am in exactly the same boat. Only got to wait until December. Luckily, I got experience in a number of schools on supply and this year have been permanent but on UQT scale. All because of one mark. I, too, contacted the local MP – no common sense from DFE on this issue. Ludicrous that I got outstanding on placement and in a recent OFSTED – the government would rather have teachers in our position out of the classroom at a time when a new curriculum is coming into force and would, inadvertently, de-skill anybody in this situation. I have retaken a GCSE maths course to help but think my nerves were the issue. Probably was a fatal mistake that the last time (when I failed by one mark) coincided with the morning I took my driving test. At least I can drive to my Unqualified post!!

      • Hayley, can I ask what qualification did your Uni award you at graduation as you didn’t get QTS? Did you complete a BEd or PGCE?
        The reason I ask is, my daughter was awarded a Graduate Diploma in Education as she failed her numeracy by just one mark. The Uni wouldn’t award her the PGCE that she had passed with flying colours, all because she didn’t gain QTS at the time! …..the whole saga continues……..
        However, I know of others who were still awarded their PGCE even though they failed qts.

  25. What can we do about this? I am not willing to watch all of my hard work and determination go down the drain, will anyone help me set up a petition to retake the test earlier than the two year ban? Your help would be greatly appreciated, I feel so lost and helpless.

    • I will help!
      I’m in Italy until Tuesday.
      There is a TES campaign which already has a fair bit of weight behind it.
      Look into that? I haven’t as yet but will do when I get back to the UK.
      You can contact me on my email address any time.
      My training provider has been very supportive of me, as have me schools.


    • ps.

      The lost and helpless feelings will go away when you start to do something positive about it.

      I know how that feels though, so don’t think you’re alone with that.

      Remember that nothing is ever as bad as it seems, and that it’s not what life throws at you, it’s how you catch it that counts.

    • Lucie,
      I have had a meeting with my local MP and he wrote to David Laws, I received a letter from him that basically brushed the whole situation off saying that Gove has declared the 2 year ‘lock out’ is to enable people that fail to get their mathematical knowledge to the appropriate level. I failed by 1 mark! So 2 years is ridiculous, plus no one seems to be putting anything into place to support students in gaining that knowledge within those two years!
      I am unsure of where to go now with this situation. My local council refuse to employ me as an unqualified teacher so I’m now employed as an LSA until April as my head teacher is hoping things will changes before then! Any suggestions on what to do next would be much appreciated! 🙂

  26. Great thank you for your support, feel free to get in contact with me also, if you ever need a chat or a rant I am here, I know exactly what you are going through. Ill look into the tes straight away. I hope we can get a petition sorted. 🙂

  27. It’s quite comforting to hear that I am not the only person who is in this awful situation. I too have just failed my final attempt at the numeracy skills test and am very upset. I did a PGCE but had an extremely tough year marred with problems in my personal life as well as the pressures of the course and feel utterly devastated that this has happened. I trained to teach primary (5-9) and similarly received outstanding grades for my final placement and was commended on my numeracy teaching. I even led interventions for the Year 2 SATS working with children who had low confidence. I absolutely love teaching and was told and felt that I really motivated and inspired the children I taught on placement. I think that we have been caught in an unfair trap with the changing legislation and requirements for trainee teachers. I think doing the skills tests before entry is a good idea but as we were already training, it’s unfair to allow you to get so far and complete the course (which is an unbelievable amount of work) and risk not qualifying as a result of failing the tests. My problem was the pressure and the panic, in my first attempt I was 3 marks away, my second 4 marks and then 1 mark away in my final test. The sheer pressure got to me as I felt that I had my whole career and life riding on this and I have struggled with health and emotional issues to get through it this year. I am very very upset and would appreciate talking to some people who are in the same boat as me. Would anyone be able to advise on other options?

    • Do the same as others have posted, contact your MP, you ITT provider/course coordinator, DfE. Your Union, UCET & NASBITT. Any other related agencies, keep this shambles highlighted. Good Luck, don’t go away quietly which is what they are hoping for, be heard!.

  28. Thank you so much I have looked on line and apparently there is already a petition but only 6 people have signed it, it also says it is for PGCE and QTS postgraduates but does not mention BA QTS students who did the full four year course. Surely there is someone who could listen to us? x

  29. Hi Lisa
    I was wondering where this petition is? Also I have just been speaking with the teaching agency and they have advised that you are not allowed to work as an unqualified teacher if you have a PGCE or BA as it is a route designed towards gaining QTS??? Can anyone shed any light on this?

    • I have looked everywhere online for some sort of online of appeal, I received an email from a tutor saying there is a lot of people in our situation. I looked on the TES forums in regards to this topic and it is littered with teachers saying that it is fair and a two year wait is a appropriate amount of time etc… bearing in mind they took the test when the pressure wasn’t on, some of them didn’t have to take the test and many of them had an unlimited chance . I also found an old forum in which NQTs were talking about the amount of times they took the test (some taking it ten times). The one comment that made me laugh the most was a lady saying that 3 attempts on the test is plenty, in other industries you get one chance and one chance only. Which is a load of old horse s*%t. Having coming from a family background of highly qualified electricians and engineers, I nor those respective people have heard of this situation in their industries. Quite frankly the issue with education right now is that is is full of bloated senses of self worth and bombastic arrogance.
      Unfortunately, as much as it pains me to say this i don’t think there’s a chance to fight it. The government have no idea in regards to the impact that it is having on peoples lives. Yes you should have to pass it before you go onto the course but like lynchy85 said ‘we’ve been caught in the trap’. All that hard work gone up in smoke for a silly little test. I wish there was a way to sort it but right now i don’t think there is. By the looks of it Gove has lost some really good teachers. We took the tests and we failed them, but it’s saddening to know that if we took the test last year we would of passed. So the NQT’s working now have the same ability to pass but where not allowed to.
      Also, I read an official statement from the test centre, stating that, ‘the test vary in difficulty’. Which in it’s self is a joke. Some of the questions that came up on my last test I had never seen whilst revising, and i used a number of well credited sources to revise from.
      I personally am thinking of leaving education all together and finding another path, two year is just to long to wait. On top of this by the time the two years are up the test are supposedly meant to at a GCSE level B. In which logic and other aspects are brought to the table. I teach primary school children. If that’s the case it’s like taking a pilots license to fly a kite.

      Sorry for the lengthy rant, just feeling angry that i have wasted all that time and effort. Also if i’m right in saying we are the only country that requires you to take the test. Lovely is all I can say, it’s just so bloody chipper !!!

      • I know exactly how you feel and it’s such a shame for everybody that it’s come to this. Sadly I don’t think that we are going to be able to fight it either. I don’t want to give up on education as a career though as I find it so fulfilling. I’m going to try and find a position in a free school or an academy, or some supply work as a cover supervisor. akira06 I think you should not give up straight away, It’s a horribly frustrating situation but you may be able to find some way through it and remain in education somehow. We should all keep in touch and see what we can do/find out as i’m finding it increasingly difficult to gain advice as this is a new problem and wont arise again in next years cohort.

      • Yes Akira, only here in England do you have to pass them to gain QTS, but if you train in NI, Scotland or Wales you don’t have to do the test but, can teach in England. Contradictory? You bet!

  30. Yeah I think your right and it would be lovely to keep in touch, I spoke to a teacher friend of mine who’s been teaching several years and when he took the test it was a year after they reintroduced the unlimited testing as there was a ban on it prior to that. They lifted the ban as many talented teachers couldn’t get into the profession. Sadly I think this rule is here to stay ! I keep changing my mind as all i’ve ever wanted to do is teach and it’s the first time in my life I have had job satisfaction and been damm good at it. I keep drafting a letter to send it to the government to explain the predicament they have left many of us in. But i keep deleting as i know full well they don’t care. The whole situation is a joke. Yes we failed the bloody test, but we all passed the course and were deemed good teachers. Its sad that so many before us were given the chance. Many of us missing it by one point which would of passed last year, all of which makes it an even harder pill to swallow.

    Good luck with your future and Il be checking in on this page to see how people are getting on and if anyone else is stuck in this position. I hope not !!


  31. Hi, I have just completed a PGCE MA level SCITT course in secondary English with Drama. I failed my maths skills test by one mark and have been told to write to my MP regarding my situation. I have also been told that other teacher training representatives are writing to their MP as the situation is unjust. I still have a job as an English teacher in a academy. However, my pay will now be significantly less. This situation is ridiculous.

    • Write your letter too English – the more of us that keep up the pressure surely they will have to listen. It all absolutely stinks! Go for it.

  32. I just failed my maths by 2 marks and am absolutely gutted! Despite working my entire summer I felt extremely under pressure knowing this was my last attempt. I have worked as an unqualified teacher for a number of years and the thought of having to wait another two years to do the job I absolutely love makes me feel like giving it all up.

    • Joanne don’t give up your dream, contact your MP, your Union if you have one, the DfE, also your Uni. Express your anger and concerns – this 2 year lock out has to be lifted. It’s a nonsense!

  33. Pingback: QTS and mental arithmetic | minorityattack

  34. I am a qualified teacher, and my mental arithmetic is very good becasue I use it every day. However, my ex-grilfriend really struggled with her maths QTS test. After a little coaching, she really started to “get” mental maths for the first time. It was a really rewarding time teaching her.

    I think there’s a market in coaching for this test. What do you reckon? Let’s simply make those “failing” teachers faster. Good teachers shouldn’t be prevented from teaching by slightly slow mental maths…

  35. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMpBN_MmX7o Hope this cheers some people up. Just done some research into Mr Gove, silverspoon education, journalist and then politician . Where does working education come into this haha.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAqyf7a4xFM Oh and add this for good measure, hope it cheers some people up.

    I suggest that you all contact your unions, I contacted mine the other day and they are going to fight this for me. If anything it’s a glimmer of hope. There is an E petition online but only 20 people of signed it. Have a look and get your John Hancock on there.

    In peace and solidarity.

  36. Great! Where is the petition and which union are you with? My union nawust have been useless but I am also signed up with the NUT. Has anyone had any luck with jobs? I am not enjoying having to explain my situation to recruitment consultants and schools 😦

  37. Also, my uni have said that they and many of the other ITT providers have written to the government and are working together to compile a case to allow for further attempts as more and more people are coming out of the woodwork who are in this situation.

  38. This sounds promising, where can I find information on this? What uni do you go to? Do they think you have a strong case?

  39. I am due to start my PE PGCE in a few days and I passed both tests first time in October 2012. I was given the offer of the place quite late in the year so I had the worry that I had taken and passed these tests only to have them expire on me and have to take them again if I didn’t get a teacher training place! Literacy is my weakest subject out of the two skills tests and the mental maths part was fine for me. I only had one question that I couldn’t type in quick enough because I made a typo the first time. My advice would be;

    Ask for and use the whiteboard to write down workings
    Listen to the first reading of the question and write down the key information
    Use the time taken for the second reading plus the 18 seconds to give you extra time to answer the question
    If you miss the question the first time, use the second reading but this does cut in to the time to answer

    The only preparation I did was to take the on-line tests and found them to be relatively easy. I can see why the limit on re-sits has been put in to place and I think the amount of times that some people used to sit the tests is shocking!! 27 times to pass a test is not an acceptable standard for any teacher in my opinion.

    I feel that it is unfortunate that some teachers cannot pass within the three attempts given (I know a secondary PE teacher that has just finished the PGCE training with outstanding, only to fail the last attempt at his numeracy test a few weeks before the end of the course). However, we need to continuously try to raise standards in education and therefore I support the limit on resits. As a PE teacher I will need to use mental maths every day to work out groupings to split the class up in to teams. There are also a lot of distances and times in PE and I need to work out the difference between results to show pupils how much they have improved in x attempts. I know I am secondary but I am not a maths specialist, yet I will need to use maths every day to be successful.

    Furthermore, the argument of feeling pressured by having resits limited is not valid in my opinion because we now expect the children we teach to take exams without resits. It is a bit hypocritical to expect the children to perform well in an exam where they have one chance if we cant do it in three!! That is where preparation comes in.

    I expect that this may be controversial however, it is only my opinion on the tests and everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

    • You are in a different situation to my friend. You needed to do the tests BEFORE you started your course. Had you failed them you could do something else. My friend had almost completed a 4year BEd (ie. a degree pretty much only useful for education) when they changed the goal posts at last minute. This is unfair. The pressure when you have spent 4years of your life working towards something, which you may lose due to a couple of marks, I would imagine is very different to possibly being able to get onto a course or not. I agree there should not be unlimited attempts and that you should pass the tests before you start, but this shift while people have invested so much is very unfair.
      P.S you may find empathy a useful skill to develop as a teacher.

  40. I’m at Leeds University, they couldn’t promise anything but they all think it’s unfair and are in talks with the teaching agency about it. I’m not holding my breath but at least they are trying. Will keep you updated.

  41. Sign this Government petition against the 3 strike rule


    Change the current assessment procedure for the PGCE Skills test – Literacy and Numeracy

    Responsible department: Department for Education

    To withdraw the implementation of literacy and numeracy tests for postgraduate PGCE, QTS or reduce the re-sit period of two years.
    What other profession has a bench mark test for literacy and numeracy that does not consider your level of academic entry grades? Which can then effect your future professional career. Presently the government requires you to wait two years to re-sit these tests so in effect your career can be deferred for two years regardless of your teaching practice, previous grades and course assessment grades.The tests do not reflect the quality or standard of teaching implemented by trainee teachers.

    • Hi do you know if there is something for students on the exit programme of the BEd degree, where we were allowed to get unlimited free tries and then got changed to 3 chances.

      • Hi Rubi246
        There was at one point the opportunity to have unlimited tries at these tests. The Mr Gove decided to remove this and replace it with 1 free attempt, if you fail you then have the opportunity to take two resits, (£19.95 per test per try) if you fail the two you are then locked out for two years. The two years expires on the date of your first resit. I hope this is clear for you – Good Luck!

  42. Great petition! I’ve just got another 10 signatures on it and sending it around. How is everyone doing with alternative options? I’ve had to give notice on my house share because I will no longer be able to afford the rent with the salary reduction. I’m going to have to move back in with my parents. So stressed by it all!

    • Hi Lisa
      I’m new to this forum but have been proactive on another, and have had some unhelpful responses but also some helpful. Somebody recommended coming on here. I have signed the petition, however I don’t know how proactive the lady is that set it up. I don’t know how many signatures are needed but it normally has that info on the page but I don’t think it has yet. I was made aware of it but I didn’t receive the normal email that I have had in the past.
      I have become involved as I just wanted to see what advice and help was out there for my daughter.
      She is due to start her 3rd year of a 4year course Primary Teaching with SEN, She failed her 3rd attempt mid August by 1 mark. Consequently she has been locked out. Her course ends officially in July 2015, she is locked out until August 2015. She will not be able to graduate with her Teaching Qualification.Maths is not her forte, but she is by no means unintelligent. She gave up a full time well paid job in an inner city secondary school supporting visually impaired and other complex SEN students to further her career, whilst in this job she completed a year long access course to gain her place at University. We were advised by UCET to contact our MP, which we have done on Friday, armed with a lot of points to raise. I had already emailed her and included these points. She has said that she has already written to Gove and highlighted these points, she is also going to contact the House of Common library for clarification on these points. She will contact me when she has a reply and we will meet up again.

      UCET did inform us that my daughter had been treated unfairly and a key point is that when she started her course which would have been Oct 2011, it would have been with the understanding that she had unlimited chances at these tests, changes were not made until March 2012, in November 2011 they said the changes would not effect existing students (of which she is one),however her University are saying that UCET have misinformed us. We have asked our MP to look into that also.

      I also work in an inner city secondary school on the pastoral team, I see the knock on effect this is having. So many people’s lives being turned upside down.
      One thing that is galling me is that in NI, Scotland or Wales you do not have to take these tests but can come to England and teach. If you train in England and fail the tests you cannot teach anywhere, except as has already been said Academies, Free & Independent Schools. Contradictory?? Absolutely!!

      It’s a good job the same doesn’t apply for driving tests because Gove would not be driving now – he failed his 7 times!!! Imagine the public outcry if it was applied!

      I would first off sign the petition, then contact your MP, better if they have a surgery that you can just pop into as we did. Take as much information with you that you have.

      I’m prepared to help out in anyway I can, even if the tests aren’t abolished have the lock out ruling removed or at least reduced to say 6 months. No students need this added stress! Sorry to give you War & Peace on my first post!

      • Thank you for your advice I appreciate it. I haven’t got in touch with my mp as another mp said that Gove thinks the the 2 year ban is seen as an appropriate period of time to practise maths. I’m so stressed about this situation and I am currently receiving counselling as a result. Can we do a protest or anything that will get the attention we need for this case? I hope something positive comes from this soon.

      • I also was Informed that when I started my course I would be allowed unlimited attempts and they decided to change it 9 months before I was due to graduate. I graduated with a first class degree and have received nothing less than outstanding in each one of my school placements. There are girls on my course who were graded as a cause for concern yet they passed their maths so are still able to teach.

  43. There appears to be two epetitions going related to this, started by the same lady. I’m sure that will affect the votes count, 100.000 is a lot of signatures.

  44. Can I just add, following on to my post regarding students training outside of England not having to take these tests, I am not in any way shape or form disrespecting them, or implying that their courses are “easier”, I’m galled at the contradiction of it by Gove.
    His job as Secretary of State for Education is to make sure that all decisions are made using appropriate evidence and reasoning, not to actually make the decisions himself based on his personal views

  45. Hi Lisa,
    It’s so upsetting reading all these posts and so many students in the same position, and the knock on effect it is having. I would definitely contact your MP, just because Gove thinks 2 years is sufficient time for students to improve, doesn’t mean that he is right. Again, his personal view, and everybody has to go with the flow??? I have made several points that my MP is going to raise with him, one point being; It would be better to build into the training course opportunities were students can demonstrate the ability to deal with the kind of Maths they may need to use as teachers and have that accredited in some way. Another one was; Why are paying private companies to run examinations (at huge expense) with no proven benefit. There are so many negatives regarding this issue, so I would say yes go to your MP take as much information that you have with you. If the majority of people chip away at their own MP’s and they in turn raise all our issues, somebody will have to listen. I would also ensure you sign the epetition. Stay strong Lisa we are all in it together,

  46. Gosh I wish I had joined this forum before the student room one – some of the negativity is draining, and I find I have to switch off for a day before coming back all guns blazing. Some pompous people on there, take a look!

  47. I too have failed my numeracy test after 4 years at university by 1 mark. I achieved a 2:1 degree with honours and gained outstanding on all of my observations in schools.

    I had a job lined up for this September, met the children and parents, sorted my classroom ready for the children and then found out my position had to be withdrawn. My head teacher was devastated at having to let me go and so was I.

    My career is over, I’m heartbroken and feel your friends pain. My dream has been crushed by 1 mark. The saddest thing is, the children are missing out on outstanding teachers.

    • I have had a letter from David Laws, the Secretary for schools. He stated that I (and others in my position) will have to wait the 2 years before re-sitting the skills test.
      NUT (National Teachers Union) basically said they are in talks with the DfE about it and have said in the mean time I should seek employment in a free school or academy. NASUWT have said the same!
      So, no news from my attempts. Even with evidence that some people in my cohort took their maths test before Sept 2012 and passed on the 60% pass rate, when they shouldn’t have been eligible to book it, let alone take it!!! I’m now considering employment outside of education until I can retake. I’m currently covering PPA in the school I initially got my first teaching job at. I’ve lost £8k from the salary I first signed a contract for. But I’m teaching all day most days on an LSA wage as my local council has disallowed my head teacher to employ me as an unqualified teacher. So they are getting a great deal out of me for little money!!!
      I’m losing hope in any changes happening anytime soon, if ever unfortunately.

      • Hi. I contacted the DFE to ask them how many students in 2012/13 had completed their training but were unable to gain QTS due to failing one of their skills test…. The number is 1,905!!!! This is crazy! I liaised with UCET and NASBTT and they were shocked that the number was so high. Everyone who wants change and who are in this position, need to contact either UCET/NASBTT. Also meet with your MP.

      • Hi Katy,

        Don’t give up hope yet. I can understand what you are saying, it is frustrating, the DfE is a total shambles. Talk about the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. I’m still hopeful that if we carry on chipping away, the least we can do is have the 2 year lock out ruling removed. The whole thing just stinks!

      • Katy, do you know how they were able to sit the skills tests before September 2012 if they were starting PGCE as this would have allowed them unlimited attempts? Did they not need a teaching reference number to register to sit the tests?

      • Good question Annie! We were told at university that we were unable to log on to Pearson Vue and we weren’t eligible to take the tests before Sept back in March/April last year before finishing for the summer.
        We already had out Teacher Reference Numbers from the first year when we were given them. Some people obviously thought they’d see if they could log in and ended up being able to book and take the tests last July/August!!! Passing on the previous 60% pass rate, which I would have passed on as I failed by 1 mark on my second and third attempts!!!
        My course leader at university sent me an email saying that she is aware of those students taking it early and doesn’t know how it was allowed to happen. I feel that Pearson Vue are possibly to blame for this.
        Has anyone tried to log on to attempt to book a test now…?
        I was told that I would be ‘locked out’ of the system but an actually go on the website and both another test!!! Surely I shouldn’t be able to?!

  48. Hi. I contacted the DFE to ask them how many students in 2012/13 had completed their training but were unable to gain QTS due to failing one of their skills test…. The number is 1,905!!!! This is crazy! I liaised with UCET and NASBTT and they were shocked that the number was so high. Everyone who wants change and who are in this position, need to contact either UCET/NASBTT. Also meet with your MP.

    • Wow, nearly 2,000 students left in limbo! At around £20 per resit that’s a cool £40,000 in fees. More students will have passed at the 2nd and 3rd attempt as well and incurred fees.

  49. I have one maths exam left, as i have failed the other two by one mark!

    My problem i find is that i freeze when in an exam situation! Does that mean my maths knowledge is poor?

    I have spoken to a good friend who works with SEN children in school and believes that when it comes to the exam i have no belief in myself that i will pass, the root of the course; my old maths teachers from school, we worked out from the age of 8 till 15. I have always found maths hard but passed my GCSE due to my parents paying for a tutor. My teachers as a child knew i struggled and could not take/have the time to support me, so i was out in the bottom set with a teacher who didn’t care and called us all stupid ( I’m not old either so yes it still happens!).

    What i’m trying to say is I know my stuff like the lady who didn’t pass, I’m sure she does as well, however, pressure, nervous and insecurities cause people to fail when they should not. Thats why i wanted to become a teacher, just because you know your maths, doesn’t mean you can teach it, i like children, i enjoy working with them and learning from them as much as they do from me, not putting them down because they aren’t getting questions right, which i have seen far too much of in my school practice. I’m working hard to pass this last test with not just maths but confidence work as well.
    I believe just because you can answer a question in 18 seconds and pass a test doesn’t mean you can teach maths!!

    The government need to open their eyes and see what they are missing.

      • I have done them all, now having to borrow books dated 2000. I have put my exam back again as my teachers at uni think i need more time to work on my confidence. So much is riding on me passing this maths exam that its started to make me ill 😦

      • This is all so frustrating and wrong on so many levels. It’s stressful not knowing what to do next!!!

      • I couldn’t agree more. Since it’s a new problem nobody seems to be aware of what is going on at all. It is infuriatingly stressful. Each morning I get up to go to work and feel so low and unfulfilled. I had a class of children waiting for me and because of 1 mark on a maths test I cannot legally teach them! It’s absurd.

      • I wish there was something we could all do collectively?? Have you contacted the people Annie has mentioned?

      • My university recommended I get some statements from people that have seen me teach and send them to UCET. I don’t really know who they are if I’m honest but my correspondence at my uni has said the government aren’t listening to universities opinions and they feel that head teacher’s and school’s opinions on the matter are more valid. My head teacher at my current school has sent a statement from her point of view. I also asked my final year placement teacher tutor who graded me ‘high’ (the highest grade) for my 10 weeks teaching practise with her. I haven’t heard anymore about any developments with this though.

      • God the more I read the angrier I get! Maybe the only thing we can hope for is a change government wise? But we’ve got to keep chipping away xx

      • Isn’t the next general election scheduled for 2015?! Which is when we’ll all be due to re-take them. I’m feeling very disheartened but am determined to keep going with trying to get a change!

      • Yes you are right. I’m trying really hard to stay positive. It’s just not right how many people’s lives this is affecting!

      • No Carly I’ve no intention of giving up – I promise you, sometimes you just hit a blip, but when you read some of these comments you pick yourself up and carry on xxx

  50. Katy, that is just so very unfair that some students were able to access and complete the skills tests and the rest of you, including my own daughter weren’t! That is definitely a huge error on Pearsons behalf, proving that the whole situation is a total mess!! So many students have been disadvantaged in 2012/13 and they are now being deprived of a career because of mistakes by the DFE and Pearsons. I would urge you to please contact UCET(universities council for the education of teachers) James Noble-Rogers and explain this situation and what has happened……I will be! The more that contact them and raise the same issue, hopefully the more they will listen……Strength In Numbers!! Just look at my previous message, 1905 students have completed their training in 2012/13 but failed one skills test by just one mark……

  51. Some people are hoping that some changes (Government wise) will be made in April 2014. Also some are questioning serious flaws in the systems used. The DfE and Pearsons appear to be a shambles. This process has definitely not been thought through properly. As I said earlier we all hit a blip, but don’t take no for an answer, keep hassling, emailing all relevant people and agencies. Far too many peoples lives have been turned upside down by this! Don’t give up, we need to fight it.

  52. I am proactive on another forum and one thing a few of us have done, is collated our points and then individually have contacted our relevant MP’s, UCET, DfE and any other relevant agencies. We keep each other in the loop. Maybe it would work on here also. If somebody brings up another issue/complaint – post it here and we can all pick up and forward on to these people. The more that bombard the more they will have to take notice……………………….hopefully! We have to try.

  53. Hey guys, its been a while since i posted on here, been doing a bit of UK traveling/ soul searching etc.. its good to see so many positive attitudes. What are we going to do ? I have no idea where people are based but it would be awesome to meet up and build a master plan. I am happy in my work and am lucky to have a good head teacher who believes in me. But still the whole situation is F@£$ed. Someone posted about feeling dreadful in the morning I have that every day but the kids get me through. However two years is bullshit. The country is missing out on some bloody good teachers. The issue i had was i gave everything to my training year, sometimes trying hard isn’t enough. I have s@@t to deal with that just annoys me. Looking at the quality of NQT’s coming through the Gove(rnment) want the average, not people willing to devote a lifetime to the profession. The sad thing is the post (war/training) depression. There’s no place for us, were in the beautiful place where the best thing we can do is build character. But character don’t pay the rent. I have no other qualifications as such, none that will pay the rent anyways. I worked on a building site to get me through uni and after all this hard work I most certainly do not want to go back there. Anyways people stay positive and I personally send a online hug to those who are feeling shit about this complete bull situation. And just remember were all in this boat so your not alone xxxx P.S just looking at Mr Gove one can see why he has so much hate in his life, he quite possibly was a prefect at school with a slight touch of ASD, “Sir those boy’s were smoking behind the bike sheds, please give me an award” WHAT A COCK lol xxx

    • Hi Akira I’m glad you’re happy, it’s good to hear. Logistically It would be impossible to all get together. However, we can keep each other in the loop, keep hounding our relevant MP’s and all other relevant agencies, at the moment it doesn’t seem like the DfE have a clue what’s going on! But, reading some posts there appears to be some flaws in the system, resulting in discrepancies which although has had an unfair affect on some it’s come up trumps for others. It’s a shambles. So we need to keep hounding people, keep trying to add to the petition – it is running for 12 months, and report anything new here. xxx

  54. Pingback: Gove failed his driving test SEVEN TIMES and is still allowed to drive, but prevents teachers from teaching if they fail QTS skills tests THREE times. | SexEdUKation

  55. Hi everyone. My daughter knows of someone who was able to access Pearsons and sit and pass her skills tests on her fourth attempt, prior to the time she was “allowed” to sit them. This happened sometime between April and September 2012, (she should not have been able to sit them until the September as this would have been when she was going into her final year of training)…..but she somehow managed to log on and pass the tests with unlimited attempts and at the lower pass mark of 60%. (Good luck to her)
    Just wondering if this has been the case for many more?

  56. Any updates?? Please don’t give up with this appeal!!

    I have contacted the Skills Tests Team asking them how it was possible for some students to be able to sit their skills tests early(between April&September 2012)still awaiting a reply. Will post it on here when I hear from them.

    • Yes guys, as Annie says don’t give up, we have to keep chipping away at this, we all still need to be heard. I have contacted education.gov.uk, asking for figures (under the freedom of information act) on how many students from 2011/2012 & 2012/2013 have failed their numeracy & literacy skills tests and how many have failed by one mark. Get in touch yourselves, ask any questions in relation to this. We need to keep it highlighted.

  57. Just reading through posts on another forum, there still doesn’t appear to be an update yet on changes (if any) being made to the skills tests. The DfE certainly dragging their heels for some reason. And I also noted that Edge Hill had spaces available on their primary PGCE whilst Cardiff is full – surprise surprise! Be interesting to see how many other Welsh/Irish/Scottish Uni’s are full!

  58. Have had a letter from my MP today following our meeting early Sept. She has also forwarded me a letter fro David Laws, he has answered the points I raised, but obviously not what I wanted to hear. I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall and am not sure what to do next. I’ll read the contents thoroughly tomorrow see if there is anything I can pick out and redirect to Mr Laws. He hasn’t told me anything positive, and looks highly unlikely that nothing will change anytime soon!

    • The options around the new policies including the introduction of pre-entry testing & limiting the number of resits was carefully considered.
      Its the responsibility of the training provider to provide support to trainees in relation to the skills tests where required and that they have been a requirement of QTS for over 10 years.
      I mentioned that only in England do they have these tests and he used the example of Wales, ITT is the responsibility of the Welsh Assembly and the administrations in the UK accept each others rules for awarding QTS. To gain QTS in Wales trainee teachers must pass equivalent skills tests which are incorporated into their overall assessment and which the ITT provider is responsible for delivering through the training course. If the standards aren’t met trainees are not recommended for the QTS award (which I knew – but asked why that couldn’t happen here – he’s swerved that)

      I said no consideration was given for students who had passed their GCSE’s more than a few years ago. He said he believes it is very important to ensure that English & Maths skills are current . The tests are designed to give parents head teachers and employers the confidence that all those entering teaching have themselves been able to demonstrate a current high standard of English & maths.

      I said about the expense of using private companies to run the tests. He said over 150,000 skills tests were delivered in the last academic year, the Department could not administer them, tenders were put out and Pearsons put in an open, competitive tender and the cost of the provision of services are carefully monitored.

      The professional skills tests are not part of teacher training courses. Since 2012 they have been an entry requirement for all applicants to initial teacher training. The tests themselves have been a requirement of QTS for over 10 years and trainees were previously eligible to take them in their final year of study

      The points I raised with my MP were not just mine but from a few people off another forum that we collated and I said I would ask on their behalf.

      Any further thought or advice would be appreciated Lisa

      • Hi I am on my last attempt on my english test and just done my maths test and i have always been getting the result of that I am 1 mark off. When i did my maths test I knew i passed yet they told me i did not so I complained they took a long time to come up with a reply and the only thing they said is that the computer system and answers go through a long process so it can never be wrong. I felt that they were hiding something if they were gona tell me that why did they not reply to me straight away they just told me to wait 10 days and i did but still not reply when i questionned them they said their ICT crew did not get back to them.
        So I have now requested for a paper copy of my answers, I know theres something weird going on for me to be always told i am 1 mark of in all the tests that I have taken.

  59. Pingback: #Math Is Fun… Sometimes | twowisegals

  60. Hi Rabida

    This is absolutely disgraceful! You should contact your MP, your Union if you have one, Pearsons as well. This cannot be allowed to happen, don’t just accept what they are telling you – even if they say you have no right of appeal. I’m not sure you will get copies, I’ve not heard of anybody requesting them before though.

    • Yes it was Pearsons who I contacted and this is what they told me their was a specific person who was investigating my case. When I asked for a copy of my answers they replyed by just giving me an option of how I can get extra time for my re-take test. ????? I did not have the time of patients to even reply to this. As everything on their system is recorded I think we should have the right to get a hard copy of the test as this would be proof of their perfect system interms of marking. I think this is a money making scheme, It may sound crazy but if you think about it, if their system were to be so great they would not hesitate to provide people with a print out proof. But all they give is a sheet of paper with the mark you needed to pass. And isn’t it weird that the many people who did not pass were the ones who were 1 mark off.

      • Hi Sue54, From reading all the comments, I think if we put them together we have a strong case of the unjust rules. I was wondering if there is a petition for all students with teaching related degrees not just PGCE’s, who are in the same position of suffering under the new rules. If not, can we make one please with specific clear points with backed up evidence this way we will grab the attention of more people and our petition will be noticed.

        For example from reading peoples posts these are specific points to be made about Gove’s unjust new rules.
        *Students who had started their degree in 2011 were given a TRN (teaching reference number) which they would use to book their test and this could only be done once the person was in their 3rd and final year of their degree. (For others it may have been their 4th year depending on what degree they were taking). They (Pearsons and universities) specifically said from Sep 1st 2012 you can book your tests. Students were promised unlimited tries at these tests, at the start of their degree. Surprise Surprise Gove’s three stirke rule came into action from Sep 1st 2012. Also, the rule that students going into a teaching degree to have QTS before entering.
        -What was the reason for not allowing the students to do their QTS in the 2nd year of studying?
        – Why were some people allowed to book their tests in August 2012 and get through with the old rules of unlimited tries and lower % pass rate?
        – Why was the new rules enforced on thoese students who were at the end of their degree, contradicted and breaking the promise of unlimited tries?
        – If it was so important for the rules to be inforced to all why were the students who finished their degrees in May 2012 were not told to do their QTS skills tests again. (Since Gove is trying to be soooooo fair and ensuring that trainee teachers come out with current knowledge)

        *Sue54, when you mentioned to the MP that, why do we need to do the test when we have our GCSE’s, the MP replyed that ‘he believes it is very important to ensure that English & Maths skills are current’. IF THIS IS SO LET ALL TEACHERS TEACHING IN SCHOOLS NOW DO THEIR SKILLS TESTS AGAIN, ‘TO OBVIOUSLY SHOW THEIR CURRENT SKILLS IN THESE SUBJECT AREAS’. LETS JUST SEE HOW MANY TEACHERS THEY HAVE LEFT IN ENGLAND.
        fact- A teacher who has been teaching for 30 years had 9 tries at her Maths skills test. Is she allowed to continue on to teach with that qts skills test she did 30 years ago. How is this current????

        * Where did money come into these tests, since we had to pay to study for our degree part of achieveing the qualified teaching standards is the qts skills tests, so we have already paid to carry out these tests as they are a requirement of our degree and not something seperate. (again money making system)

        I am a very realistic person, I do not think Gove is going to take these skills tests away. My fight is against the injustice against students who have spent 3-4 years of their life in the degree to then be told, ‘sorry we told you to wait to take the test in your final year but, oooh wait Gove has inforced a new rule’. We should have been protected from these new rules and partly I think our Uni’s also did not support this unjustice act.
        -If we create a petition what I want from Gove is to exclude all thoese who are on the exist programme and have achieved their degrees to still be allowed to take the tests under the old rules as all thoese who lost out with that one mark would automatically have gained their QTS skills test.

        Please I will fight for this, even though I am not blocked out for 2 years I feel very strongly of what has happened here. If I have to get some kind of media involved in this situation I will as more than 2,000 lives have been affected.

        * First step- we need to contact all thoese with petitions out there already, they are being rejected as there are not enough people signing up or people are signing different petitions and not just one. We need to have one specific Petition and get everyone on board.

      • Oh yes absolutely, and there’s always been a “myth” that as in driving tests so many have to be given a fail. It all generates revenue!! So who is to say this is not happening here? Obviously there will be the “fors” who will have none of it, and people who have qualifications coming out of their ears have posted on here and other forums that they have failed these tests, only to be told that they have no right going into teaching! Absolutely atrocious! Don’t give up Rabida, myself and others have been arguing against this for a while now.

      • Rabida, this is sickening! My daughter also failed by one mark! It is heart breaking. It is very unfair that students are only handed a print out of paper following their test stating that “you required one more mark to pass” sure how do they know where they went wrong, if at all?!!…..I know my daughter would have liked some more information than just that!! It’s disgraceful!! Can you request a hard copy?? Also, the pass mark and the percentage mark do not tally up!!

  61. Hi, Sue54
    There is no sign of me giving up, this is just the begining.
    Can I ask who are the other people and wheather you know the names of the people who have created a petition?
    So Many peoples petitions are being rejected, And I have read through the rejected petition some good points but not specific. This is a SERIOUS matter and we need to be specific and reply back with evidence to MP’s don’t brush us off and think that they have slient us.
    Sue54 how many people you know in this situation?

    Hi Annie,
    Yes I totally understand how your daughter must be feeling I have not taken my final test yet but I will not till I get a paper evidence saying where my wrong answers where as I felt I had passed that test. I went in knowing that 63% of 28 is 17.6 (round it up) you need 18 marks to pass. whilst doing my tests I was recording along ticking my answers i knew were 100% correct so then i can count up at the end whether I had passed or not. When I counted my ticks I had 22 correct answers for sure and I was told I was 1 mark off. This is were i kicked off and Pearson started an investigation they took long to reply and they only said they did not find anything wrong they have not provided me with hard proof evidence. Which does not do them any favours as they boast that their system is so great they should have provided this.
    I have yet to contact my MP. I will get that hard copy one way or the other. Pearsons also record with CCTV monitoring each computer so I do not see how it is hard for them to record someones answers.

    I will be getting my own Petition out with specific points and the point of action we want so please let everyone you know in the same situation, if from reading my points they would like me to add any other errors they have spotted in the system in my petition I would be gladly able to do that.

    My half-term holiday from work is coming up so I will be working on this and pileing the evidence up don’t worry Annie your daughter will get Justice!!!

    • Rabida I love your enthusiasm over this! I have been fighting my daughters corner since July and I am still fighting….with no intention of giving up on this. I would ask you to email James Noble Rogers at UCET(universities council for the education of teachers)he has been a good help for us. We have met with or MP and he is writing to and meeting with Mr Gove and putting our case forward. If you google epetitions and then search QTS you will find a couple of epetitions up and running.
      I really do hope my daughter gets justice(and everyone else)she has her teacher training finished and can not teach due to this one mark fail in her numeracy for two more years! So upsetting!! I have recently emailed the skills team and NCTL requesting an answer as to how it was possible that so many students were able to access Pearsons and pass their skills tests with unlimited attempts between April and September 2012……still waiting on a reply!

      • Hi Rabida

        I too appreciate and applaud your enthusiasm. My daughter is in a similar situation, she has 2 more years of her course to complete but has been locked out until August 2015. Take note of Annies comments & contact the people she has advised you to contact. We are in regular contact with each other – however we are all in this together and need to keep letting ourselves be heard! Anything we can do – we will and others who feel as strongly as us will also! Keep in touch!

  62. Rabida I’m not sure how many people have found themselves in this position, we have asked the DfE and they have said 1905 of the 2012/13 cohort. The majority have been unsuccessful in the numeracy. There are quite a few on here and also on another forum that I have been involved in. But they are only the ones we have been made aware of. There is a petition running – that has been since July : http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/52868

  63. The first piece of advice we were given was to contact our MP’s, also the DfE, and any other related agencies, which we have. You should contact your MP. As regards the media I’m not too sure how you would go about that, maybe somebody on here could point you in the right direction, There is definitely flaws in the system.

    • I’m a bit confused as to how I supposed to prepare myself for retaking in 2 years ! Where is the support ? As far as I’m concerned failing my last attempt by 2 marks and not being able to retake for 2 years has made me loose all confidence in evader passing this test there is no extra support or resources available ! I don’t know where to start in preparing myself for the retake !

      • I can recommend Numeracy Ready (http://www.numeracyready.co.uk/) when you get a bit nearer the time for your retake. Three months access costs £20 but it really is money well spent. It has 20 practice tests, it analyses your results and highlights the areas you need to work on, and has an improvement centre with lots of fact sheets and tips. It definitely helped my daughter get through on her second attempt, and gave her much more confidence going into the test. I don’t have any connection to them, by the way, I’m just a satisfied customer! Best of luck for your retake.

  64. Hi all

    Just checking in to see if there’s any updates? Where is everyone up to? It’s all gone very quiet on this forum – has everyone thrown the towel in????

  65. Hi everyone,
    I really feel for all of you right now and I feel the system is letting so many teachers down.
    I have recently passed my third attempt at the numeracy test but got myself in such a state getting there. I was revising so much but seemed to be so inconsistent with my scores, the things I knew how to do one day I would forget the next.
    I decided to go and get assessed to see if there was something wrong with me as I had too much to lose like all of you.
    It turns out I have dyslexia I had got to the age of 35 without this being noticed.
    As soon as I found out I got in touch with Pearson and asked for an annulment as I was unaware that anything was wrong with me at the time.
    The lady I spoke to said that she had spoken to lot’s of people in a similar situation and that it was possible to ask for an annulment.
    For my final attempt I managed to get extra time and visual presentation which helped me so much and I was awaiting a response from the NCTL on whether they would allow me to annul previous attempts.
    I had an email from them once I had passed to say they would not go any further with my appeal as they knew I had passed.
    I don’t want to give anyone false hope but I felt confident that they would have allowed me to have annulled at least one of my previous tests should I have failed the last one that I took.
    My friend has also been in a similar situation and struggled with the time pressure. She too went for an assessment and it turns out she has it too.
    I’m not saying everyone should go and get assessed but if there is the slightest chance there could be a very good reason why you don’t cope very well in such time pressured situations with so much to lose, then it may be worth looking into.
    I really hope something gets sorted soon for all of you as I know how hard you have worked and how much one skills test can effect your confidence.
    I can also say that numeracy ready really helped me too I would highly recommend it.
    Good luck everyone.

    • Hi Sally

      Your post made great reading. Well done for believing in yourself, and asking questions. Well done to you. Can I just ask – if you don’t mind,how did you go about being assessed?

    • Hello
      I am having the exact problems. I’m on my last attempt and just been given 50% extra time and paper test. After paying £350 for an updated assessment I have only just been granted theses changes for test conditions. Unfortunately it’s was given a little late so now I am using my last attempt.

      Please could you send me numbers or names of people you contacted as I would like to try and get my previous attempts annulled too. Reading this has given me some hope.

      • Hi I am also on my last attempt and have too just been given 50% extra time. I rang up Pearson to explain my situation to see if I could get an annulment and they said as it is not their fault there is nothing they can do. They said it is your responsibility to be assessed at the beginning. The only way they said it could be annulled is if it was Pearson fault such as you giving in your evidence and them not processing it correctly for your test.

      • Sorry I couldn’t reply to your post Lisa so I had to reply to this previous post instead.
        Lisa please don’t give up hope as I said in a previous post you need to call them again and ask for an appeal to be sent to the NCTL. Keep pestering them until they listen to you!
        I would also send them an email with your scanned report and the reason why you want an appeal, including the dates of your previous skills tests.
        Please do not give up hope! You have clearly developed strategies to help you get through your studies but this test and the awful pressure it puts you under has highlighted a need for you to be given extra time and visual presentation.
        You are entitled to this now and had you known this sooner then you would have requested this then.
        Keep on at them!!!

  66. Hi, I called Dyslexia action explaining what my problem was and booked an appointment with them. Mine cost £500.00 my friend managed to see somebody else for £300.00.
    I just called the help desk number from the skills test help page and spoke to a really helpful lady called Sharon. I did speak to someone before this lady who told me it was not possible to appeal so I was pleased that I called back and checked with somebody else. I had to fill out the relevant paper work and then scan my report and email a copy of that to Pearson who then send it off to the NCTL. I think the final decision is down to them in the end.
    It was my last attempt and I went in feeling so anxious as I had not been given a definite answer as to whether it would have been annulled. I just felt very hopeful after talking to Sharon.
    Good luck

  67. Does anyone have any quick methods of multiplying 3 numbers together quickly for the mental section. I usually do the box method and get it right but it is takinh too much time. Any help would be gratefully appreciated x

  68. Hi all

    I last posted on this in August and since then have been working with my mp and really rallying against this. I have been given one more attempt at the test, I will be re-taking in the February half term. I did have some personal circumstances but just to let you all know that the mp route can work!

    • Wow Lynchy85

      That is absolutely brilliant news, I’m delighted for you well done & good luck! I am still rallying along with a woman I have been in contact with through all of this so let’s hope you are a good omen for the rest. Again well done & good luck.

    • lynchy85, this is brilliant news!! My daughter is still in contact with our MP who is following through with her appeal…this is very reassuring news!! Are you able to share any of the reasons why you were successful with this? Well Done!!!!

      • Hi Annie

        Thank you!!! I basically fought it on the grounds that I was unwell during the last 3 months of my PGCE and had to take time off etc. I backed this up with proof from my university (Leeds), doctors and my PGCE mentor. I think the other thing that helped was that I have a disability, but can’t be certain. To be honest I think it was more the abundance of evidence and relentless perusal that did the trick. I would imagine it also depends on your mp, I was fortunate to have Dianne Abbot who is fairly well known. If you want any more information I am happy to give you or your daughter my email or forward copies of my letters etc. 🙂

      • Hi Lynchey! Well one I’m so so pleased for you, you must be delighted. I hope all goes well for you in the future and indeed your career. And I think you are correct you have had an excellent MP and the proof is there for all to see. It can be done if you fight hard enough. Again Good Luck, and well done.

      • Hi All
        The DofE never ceases to amaze, it’s an absolute shambles. Messing with peoples futures.

        I have just read the following few posts on the Student Room forum:

        For those of you who are about to take their literacy test (not sure if this is good or bad news) but as of 28th February the punctuation sections will be temporarily removed while refinements are made. The remaining sections of the literacy test will be unaffected and they expect to reintroduce the punctuality element in the Autumn. Info from the DofE website.
        Further on the link says: the practice tests are currently offline as they are updating them to reflect the new tests (even though people are trying to PRACTICE them!!!)

        It says that the pages were updated on 28th February – but the practice tests were online last night (1st March)

        The last post states:
        I turned up at the test centre yesterday 1st March. I was given a piece of paper which told me that they had taken the punctuation section out of the test. No prior warning, no explanation, or anything. It took me back a little, I panicked, and failed the test by 1 mark. I left feeling annoyed, and stressed about it all day. An email explaining all beforehand would have helped.

        Surely something can be done, it is all a shambles. What if this latest piece of nonsense has affected some trainees who have failed by 1 mark, at their final attempt and consequently locked out for two years??? What do we do – any suggestions?

    • Hi Sue
      I passed my numeracy in March and have been employed as a class teacher since June. I was extremely lucky! Keep on with the fight and the offer still stands to send you my emails to Dianne Abbot and to David Laws.

      • Hi lynchy You must be over the moon, congratulations to you and good luck in your career. Hopefully you will be a good luck omen for the rest. Take care

    • Has anyone been contacted by the testing agency yet? I emailed them but there reply was my result was correct so i don’t get a pass 😦

      • Hi Qts

        I’ve only heard from a third party that they have had a letter, to say that they have had their pass accredited to them. the whole situation stinks!

      • Seriously sick and tired now. I wonder how many teachers have had to put their teaching on hold because of this lock out.

      • Hi all who do I need to contact to have May results looked at again ? I failed my last attempt by 2 marks and am currently working as an unqualified teacher I am very lucky to b in a a very supportive school that believes in me as a teacher

    • Hi Katy

      I think qts above has said that she contacted the teaching agency. This all makes me feel so angry. I was under the impression that it is a legal requirement to have passed to gain QTS, and schools cannot employ those who do not meet that criteria. So how is allowing 700+ that have been incorrectly passed by at least 3 marks legal?? How unfair is it that students from the same cohort that have failed by 1 mark have been locked out for 2 years and having to resit?? I have contacted David Laws yet again and have received a reply, he states:

      The Department is not able to offer candidates a remark or change their score on their Skills Test, unless there is a valid reason for doing so. In your daughters case we have not identified any issues with the scoring of her test and as a result we cannot change her outcome. the fact that we have decided not to take action against a small number of candidates who were incorrectly passed. The skills tests are an important part of the robust process which candidates go through to achieve qts!!!!!

      I’ve got to laugh because if I didn’t I’d cry! Contradictory, disgraceful, I could go on and on.

      Mr Laws will be getting another email batted to him!!

      • sorry I’ve missed a sentence out, It should read:
        The fact that we have decided not to take action against a small number of candidates who were incorrectly passed does not retract from the importance we attach to skills tests.!!

  69. Thank you for your reply Sue54, I also had contact with David Laws through working with my MP. Back in November I was diagnosed with depression, mainly due to this situation. I gave up trying to fight for my right to my QTS as I needed to concentrate on my health to get over all of this.
    I have had to take a job as an LSA after passing my four year degree with a high 2.1 and having my dream job taken away from me as I can’t be employed as a class teacher without QTS according to my local authority! It’s heart breaking, and just so unfair! The whole system is a shambles and nobody seems to have any decent answers!

    • Hi Katy

      I am so sorry to hear this. It’s an absolute disgrace. I have emailed David Laws back, I am not satisfied with the reply he gave me. I will keep on and on with this until something is done. How these tests can still be seen as a tool to improve the standards of teaching, when technically 700 + are illegally teaching because they failed their tests needs to be addressed.

      Keep chipping away Katy, you so deserve your chance along with the rest.

      • May I please have David Laws email address. Its not fair!!! How can they do this to us? 2 years is a long time. I hate Gove!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He has no clue about education. Google Gove and a turtle that says it all.

      • Everyone please write to the testing agency and tell them you will not let this rest. When 700+ can teach after giving a pass when they should’ve failed then why can’t we?

  70. Hi All, I have today received a reply from my email of 25th March from David Laws. He is still not budging on his decision. He has stated that the 700 + that were marked incorrectly were unaware that this had happened and they had continued on their career paths, he believes it would be unreasonable to change that now. The difference in my daughters case (and in a great deal of others) although she failed marginally by one mark she was informed promptly of this, her test was marked correctly and therefore the Department cannot change the outcome! One rule for one and another rule for another. Double standards, disgraceful and shambolic. Makes a mockery of the whole process! Has anybody else had any feedback?

  71. ——————————————————————————–
    Dear friends,

    I just signed the petition “Remove Michael Gove from office.” and wanted to ask if you could add your name too.

    This campaign means a lot to me and the more support we can get behind it, the better chance we have of succeeding. You can read more and sign the petition here:


    Can you also take a moment to share the petition with others? It’s really easy – all you need to do is forward this email or click these links:

    Share on Facebook

    Share on Twitter

    Thank you!

      • Now that Gove has been removed as the education secretary how is this going to benefit us? Already ruined our career!!! Can we resit maths now? Or are we still banned?

  72. Write to you local mp. It worked for me. I asked for further special arrangements and was refused, despite having good evidence for 100% extra time. I have had a two year battle and failed all my chances. I visited my local mp who then wrote to Gove on my behalf. David Laws responded and I recieved 100% extra time and all my chances back. As well as that I had hypnotheraphy and went gluten free. Apparently it helps the Brain with processing. I have since passed and now fully qualified. Don’t give up the battle, I’m so glad I didn’t. This test reuined my life.

  73. Hi. As you all are aware, David Laws announced in March that errors occurred during the marking of the skills tests in the 2012/13 academic year. This resulted in 721 candidates being passed incorrectly by up to three marks and being awarded QTS. I have received a reply to a FOI request and have been told that 59 candidates in the same academic year failed by up to three marks yet they are not being awarded QTS!
    This screams discrimination!! David Laws said it would be unjust to take action on the 721(which I agree with)as he said it would be unjust to do so. But where is the justice for the other 59??

    If anyone has been caught up in these errors in that academic year, have you contacted your MP?

  74. Hello everyone,

    I’m new to all of this and wondered if someone might be able to provide me with some advice as there doesn’t seem to be very much out there for people who failed the third dreaded numeracy test. (I failed on Friday by 3 measly points and I am devastated!)

    To give you some context, I had a conditional offer to start a Primary PGCE course, starting this September, but only found out at the beginning of August because I had been on the waiting list. I was overjoyed and immediately began preparing for the skills tests.
    I booked them in and passed my literacy on the first go. The numeracy preparation has consumed my whole life recently, which is fine, because I needed to pass it to get onto my dream course, (and I haven’t needed to used much maths in my current profession – publishing!) but I just kept on missing out by a mark or two.
    I can’t quite believe it because I had been completing all of the online Government tests with ease, and after completing all of G & A numerical’s resources with good marks, I felt confident and ready, especially for the mental arithmetic section.
    I now feel after failing, that the standard of practice material available is way below the level that the real test demands. Linked graphs came up that I had never seen before (with raw data?) so consequently left me feeling unsure of how to work out the required answers.

    I’m devastated. I passed my literacy test first time, have a Masters Degree, a BA Hons Degree, great A-Levels and excellent GCSE’s and have been working in publishing for the last 6 years. I’ve wanted to teach for a few years now and have gained lots of experience during my precious holiday allowance to make sure it is definitely for me, which I strongly feel it is.

    I was just wondering if anyone knows what my options are? Do I really have to wait 2 years to reapply now? This just seems like insanity to me?

    Any advice would be really greatly appreciated as I can not see any support/advice available online to anyone who didn’t quite make it.

    Thank you so much,


    p.s sorry for such a long post!

    • Hi Ella
      I’m sorry I’ve only just read this post. Myself and a few others have been lobbying for this ridiculous 2 year lock out rule to be withdrawn. If you know who your MP is, contact them and ask them to take up your story. Highlight the fact that David Laws revealed in March of this year that 721 students had been passed incorrectly after failing by 3 marks but have been allowed to continue with their careers. It is so unfair, and obviously one rule for one and one for the other!

      • Hiya Ella,
        Unfortunately the law hasn’t changed yet and you’ll have to wait the 2 years ban. You can try as it was suggested to get in touch with your MP. I failed mine by 1 mark last year and I can’t get a teaching post because of it. Knowing that I’m a language teacher, math is not crucial in my speciality but well. In the meanwhile to keep gaining experience in education, I got a language TA post.
        See with your course if you can postpone your start.
        Wish you all the best 🙂

  75. Hi all
    I am find myself in the same position as some people on this page and feel I can vent a little here.

    I failed the numeracy after 3 tries, the last attempt missing out by a point, so there was definite improvement. The outcome, no access to the teach direct course I worked hard to get on. You know, interviews, observations and so on. It has been a long year.

    Today I had a meeting with the headmaster of the school and he has basically put me on the scrap heap and said past this term I have no position at the school. Go see HR. The rest of his comments was missed as I was so dazed. I won’t even mentioned the promises given when everything is looking positive and looks like you will be training.

    My dilemma is I have been working at the school for numerous years in a cover role , specifically for the computing department and now feel after years of loyalty I have been ignored. The department I work in are just saying sorry and this is after piling on the workload and introducing a timetable for me, asking me to plan schemes of work, and more. It is obviously an honour to be regarded in the same way as a qualified teacher and given responsibility, which prompted me to get the qualification and pursue QTS.

    I find now I am in a lonely position. No job for the future and there seems to be no consultation if this situation arises and you cannot get on the training course. There is no comfort seeing others in the same position and am sure there are a lot of skilled proven people who are missing out due to a math test.

    Some advice would be great and again thank you


    • Hi Ty

      The whole thing is shambolic, the one rule for one and another for the other makes it totally contradictory. Yes you are right a lot of skilled people have missed out. Again, contact your MP and also put something in writing to David Laws. The more that keep going on about it will hopefully at some point make the suits stand up and take notice!

  76. The biggest crime here is that it only affects a cohort of trainees at a time where a new curriculum is coming into force so de-skilling a new generation of teachers. Outraged and perplexed by David Laws revelation. May go back to my MP. Time to contact the papers!! Incandescent with rage now.

    • Absolutely Hayley!! Keep pushing with your mp….I have exhausted all other routes and have now sent a complaint to the Ombudsman…..awaiting a reply!

      Did you contact the papers? Keep us updated!

  77. Has anyone had any luck with MPs in getting extra time/testing. My nephew has a 2 1 in his degree but failed his maths qts by 1 point 3 times and now can’t qualify. Four years of wasted university studies and left with uni debt. Totally devasting for him as he now doesn’t know what to do? Any advice appreciated

  78. Hi,
    I do believe the pressure of these can be the make or break issue. When I took mine people in the waiting room were shaking and a girl came out in tears.

    My sister is studying to become a primary teacher and is much better at maths than me, however she failed hers first time and was devastated. Second time she passed.

    A year later and it was my turn, I am going onto a secondary teaching course, and due to my difficulties with maths compared to my sister I was extremely worried. I took mine and passed then first time.

    When I got home we compared the types of questions we were asked, my questions were much easier than the practice paper, my sister were considerably harder. It seems as though there is a massive discrepancy between test difficulties, and that it’s luck of the draw. Of course those who fail first will be so pressure and nervous the second or third time that they may not perform to their best even if given the easier tests.

    I feel the practice questions should be a true representation of all the tests, and that all tests should be of the same difficulty to make it fair. I also believe that the time limits were too short for a few questions where 4 or 5 different operations were needed to come to an answer. Although they do not need to be abolished the questions would be better if they were readable in order to check figures and write down important figures.

    As it stands these tests are a reasonable ask, but are unfair. Your friend may have practice on the practices papers at then been given one of the tests that were particularly hard and very different to the practice.

  79. This is a ridiculous expectation, the gov is using to sieve through people , to have the cream for teaching, taking away vital other important attributes of a teacher

  80. I failed my test twice by just a few marks. The second time I requested a paper test as I have vision issues. I have to have my paper enlarged due to my sight issues. Can you believe it that “Pearsons” who delivered the test did not give me a table to sit my test on but a table with a massive computer bolted to it. Therefore, I had insufficient room to place my test paper on. This caused considerable stress to me as I had to fit perched uncomfortably so that I could rest my paper and write. I feel that I was at a great disadvantage. I now have given up as I would have to sit my final attempt under these unfair conditions. Can anyone advise me?

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