Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Testing the Teachers

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Testing the Teachers

Article excerpt

In Gordon Brown's speech on education last month, he said: "And because recruiting the best is about more than simply a class of degree, but also about empathy, understanding, passion--those intangible qualities that define every great teacher--we are now piloting a test to screen potential teachers for these wider qualities."

This test was trialled in the northwest of England by the Training and Development Agency for Schools, which recently announced that it soon plans to run a larger pilot throughout the country. It will ask questions about the qualities or attributes expected of a teacher, such as organisation, flexibility and resilience.


The idea behind this diagnostic test is thought to be loosely based on the recruitment practices of the charity Teach First, an independent charity that recruits top graduates and trains them as excellent teachers, putting them into challenged secondary schools.

As well as being able to demonstrate relevant subject knowledge, Teach First recruitment assesses graduates in a range of "competencies": humility, respect and empathy; interaction; knowledge (a passion for their subject); leadership; planning and organising; problem-solving; resilience; and self-evaluation and reflection.

Teach First was originally modelled on Teach for America in the US. Teach for America has collected data on hundreds of thousands of students and their teachers for over a decade, in an attempt to establish the common characteristics of the most effective teachers. …

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