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Teacher training course reform

July 7, 2011

HUNDREDS of prospective primary teachers could be ineligible for training courses under higher standards of maths, Irish and English being demanded by the profession.

The Teaching Council is proposing major rises in the minimum Leaving Certificate grades needed in all three subjects for entry to the main primary teacher-training degrees.

Most of the 1,000 or so school-leavers who begin Bachelor of Education (BEd) programmes each year perform well above existing requirements, but the planned changes could rule out hundreds more who still meet Central Applications Office (CAO) points requirements.

More than 21,000 people applied through CAO last year for places on 30 Level 8 education degrees, which are mostly filled by entrants to BEd courses at the four largest colleges of education, who needed at least 470 out of 600 CAO points last year.

While the entry requirements have to be set in consultation with Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, school students considering applying for BEd courses could now require the following grades in Leaving Certificate to be eligible:

* Maths: Higher level C3 or ordinary level A1 (currently only a D3 in ordinary or higher level maths is needed)

* Irish: Higher level B1 (up from a C3)

* English: Higher level B1 (up from ordinary level C3 or higher level D3).

A Teaching Council spokesperson said it is not planned to introduce the changes until autumn 2016, when the students who start second-level education next September will be sitting the Leaving Certificate.

An Irish-language admissions test would be mandatory for primary teaching or teaching the language at second level, while those who sat the Leaving Certificate more than five years before entry would have to take an admissions test to show their competence at literacy and numeracy.

As well as the aforementioned changes, alterations to the duration of courses are to be made.

Mr Quinn is due to confirm an extra year for BEd primary teaching degrees, bringing them to four years’ duration, and an extension of the Postgraduate Diploma in Education for second-level teachers to two years, when he publishes the national literacy and numeracy strategy tomorrow.

The changes for primary level are expected to take effect for entrants to courses next year and for those beginning second-level teaching programmes in 2014.

This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Thursday, July 07, 2011