Fundamental English & Mathematics Criteria have replaced ‘Skills Tests’

First the good news, back in July 2019 the DfE announced that applicants for teacher training starting after Sep 2020 no longer had to pass the two Professional ‘Skills Tests’. However,  all trainee teachers are now be required to demonstrate that they meet ‘Fundamental English & mathematics’ criteria.

So ITT Providers will continue to ‘audit’ applicants for their numeracy & literacy skills to determine that all teachers are able to demonstrate competence  in the following areas:

  • Speaking, listening and communicating are fundamental to a teacher’s role;
  • Teachers should use standard English grammar, clear pronunciation and vocabulary relevant to the situation to convey instructions, questions, information, concepts and ideas with clarity;
  • Teachers should read fluently and with good understanding;
  • Writing by teachers will be seen by colleagues, pupils and parents and, as such, it is important that a teacher’s writing reflects the high standards of accuracy their professional role demands;
  • They should write clearly, accurately, legibly and coherently using correct spelling and punctuation;
  • Teachers should use data and graphs to interpret information, identify patterns and trends and draw appropriate conclusions;
  • They need to interpret pupil data and understand statistics and graphs in the news, academic reports and relevant papers;
  • Teachers should be able to complete mathematical calculations fluently with whole numbers, fractions, decimals and percentages;
  • They should be able to solve mathematical problems using a variety of methods and approaches including: estimating and rounding, sense checking answers, breaking down problems into simpler steps and explaining and justifying answers using appropriate language.

Further official guidance can be found here

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7 thoughts on “Fundamental English & Mathematics Criteria have replaced ‘Skills Tests’”

  1. I highly recommend looking at the practice tests, just to give some insight into the requirements for passing. I passed both tests first time but I am pretty sure that I would have failed the numeracy test given I passed my GCSE over 30 years ago. I had to do the prep beforehand.

    It’s free to look.


  2. I recommend ‘ numeracy ready’ to help you prepare. The 4 free tests that you get with the skills test are great, but you begin to learn the responses rather than understand them. Also YouTube clips on strategies for quick mental maths. I passed both tests first time, after being sure I would fail the numeracy one. As a very late applicant, I only had a couple of weeks to prepare, so it is possible.

    Good Luck!

  3. I’m on my last attempt for maths after failing by one mark on my second attempt. I am slowly losing hope. are there any materials which could help me or any advice from people who passed on the third attempt.
    I found the second attempt much much harder so it has put me off going in the third attempt.
    Any help please ?

    1. Alina – We’re sorry that you are now facing your 3rd attempt, but try not to worry as the majority do pass within 3 goes, but yes, sadly not all do.

      The only real advice that we can give you is to not rush into the 3rd attempt. Take time to really find out which areas you’re not as good at and seek help (on-line resources like ‘Numeracy Ready’, YouTube, various books etc.) and speak to any schools that you’re working with, as they all have numeracy specialists who might be able to help you. Then really make sure that you’re confident about taking the test – give yourself time on the day so that you’re not rushing about and plan something as a reward for yourself for when you’ve passed . . . and you will.

      I know it’s easy to say, but you only missed by one mark, so with confidence you’ll pass next time, if you’ve prepared well and you won’t even be booking the test until you’re ready.

      I’ll not wish you luck as it needs you to be prepared, confident, focused and positive, not lucky.

      It can be done and you WILL do it!

    1. Hi, i just wanted some tips for my numeracy skills tests… I have passed my literacy but i am struggling with maths.. maybe due to nerves on the day.. any advice?

      1. Hello,

        Sorry for the delay responding.

        Most people have one of the two which they have more trouble with than the other, but since the change last year from only having 3 attempts, we haven’t had anyone who didn’t pass both tests in the end, so we’re sure that you will too.

        We would always say to do whatever practice tests you can and even look at some you can buy to give you better feedback on what you need to focus on to pass the real tests. We have a blog ‘How not to fail your skills tests’ which gives some advice and a few links to resources.

        We put on free coaching sessions for anyone that we’ve offered a place to and extend the training to other local providers to also send their trainees and these are always seen to be useful, so look out for providers offering support.

        The DfE have also done some free on-line Q&A sessions so go to:

        You’ve done the right thing by sitting the one that you’re stronger at first, so you have some idea of the process and test centre etc. so hopefully you’ll pass the numeracy if you’re as well prepared.

        The key is preparation

        Best wishes

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