Teacher training providers are warning that the system risks losing hundreds of teachers because students have been unable to take a skills test they need to start training.

Students need to complete the skills test before they can begin initial teacher training. However, there are reports that candidates have been unable to book appointments to sit it.

Teacher training bosses warn the situation could add to the country’s recruitment crisis if students are prevented from starting their courses.

James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said: “This is a growing problem and I am getting almost daily emails about it from providers who are concerned that they cannot get candidates through this process before the course starts.

“It appears there is a lack of capacity in the system and the Department for Education needs to take action urgently to deal with this. Universities have offered to help them to set up additional test centres.

Skills tests ‘in need of reform’

“Alternatively, the DfE needs to relax the requirement that candidates need to pass this test before they begin their courses. In the longer term, they need to look at the reform of these tests, which cost £25 million a year to run. There is no reason why literacy and numeracy tests couldn’t be done during the course at a much lower cost to the taxpayer.”

Mr Noble-Rogers said the system could not afford to be losing good teachers.

He said he was receiving reports of candidates being unable to sit tests from across the country but the situation “appeared to be particularly bad in the North West and West Midlands.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “There is not a backlog of candidates waiting to take their Initial Teacher Training skills tests.

“In fact, 99.6% of prospective teachers are able to book a test within 10 days and we are on track to deliver over 19,000 tests this month.

“We are working closely with our skills test delivery partner PSI to make sure that new slots are added regularly, to give candidates additional flexibility in booking their tests before the start of their course.”

Article first published in the tes.