Nearly a sixth of all trainee teachers failed literacy tests last year, statistics show.
More than 11,000 applicants were unsuccessful in online tests by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), which can be taken as many times as necessary. The number of applicants who fail to pass the test has risen by 16% since 2001.
The figures, obtained in a Commons written answer, show the existing minimum qualifications for people wanting to become teachers is too low, according to David Laws, Liberal Democrat education spokesman.
“As the number being accepted on to teaching courses rises, we need to be sure this is not being coupled with a decline in standards,” said Laws. “Only if we attract the finest quality of young people into teaching will we really be able to drive-up standards in all our schools.”
But a TDA spokeswoman said the average pass rate across literacy and numeracy was more than 83% last year, and that trainee teachers were qualified.
“While the majority of trainees pass, the tests ensure that the small number of trainees without the necessary numeracy, literacy and ICT skills cannot become qualified teachers,” the spokeswoman said. “To become a qualified teacher you need at least a grade C in English and maths GCSE. All teachers need to have a degree as well passing the skills tests.”