Survey shows gulf in teaching courses

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The Independent Online

Huge discrepancies in the performances of teacher training institutions around the country are disclosed in government tables today.

Huge discrepancies in the performances of teacher training institutions around the country are disclosed in government tables today.

At the top end, undergraduate courses for primary teachers show more than three-quarters of students have an A-level points score of a B and two Cs. At the bottom, the figure is as low as 2 per cent.

The figures, produced by the Teacher Training Agency, show that just under one-third of secondary trainees and one- quarter of primary ones do not take up teaching careers. The secondary figure is up 2 per cent on last year.

Overall, 13 per cent of primary trainees are men, but the figure varies, for example, from 24 per cent for primary training at Exeter University to 7 per cent at Manchester.

The league table for 1998-99, by Professor Alan Smithers and Dr Pamela Robinson at Liverpool University's centre for education and employment research, has Oxford University at the top and Huddersfield University at the bottom.

The Smithers/Robinson index is based on institutions' scores for entry qualifications (A-level for undergraduate and degree class for postgraduate), inspection and the proportion of trainees entering teaching.

At Oxford, more than 72 per cent of those recruited to the postgraduate course had an upper second or first. At Huddersfield, that was 22.5, and none of the 17 students on the undergraduate secondary course had more than a B and two Cs.

At Homerton College, Cambridge, 78 per cent of those on the primary undergraduate course had a B and two Cs or better at A-level compared with just 2 per cent on the equivalent course at the University of North London.

Ralph Tabberer, the agency's chief executive, said the figures would help students choose courses and encourage institutions to improve. The Government had put in place a number of initiatives including training salaries for teachers to boost recruitment.

"Each provider is being asked to set targets to improve entry qualifications and the proportion of men and ethnic minorities."

Professor Smithers said: "We see here a system struggling to meet recruitment targets and that is reflected in the low entry qualifications. The jury is still out on whether the golden hellos for teachers ... and other measures by the Government will bring a sustained boost to recruitment."

Some institutions do badly on the qualifications measure because they admit a high proportion of mature students who have taken access courses after failing to gain formal qualifications at school.

In alternative tables produced by Professor Alistair Ross, director of the institute of policy studies in education at the University of North London, taking into account the proportion of ethnic minority students and the contribution to the needs of the area, the university came third for primary and sixth for secondary.

Professor Ross said:"Entry standards do not demonstrate anything about the quality of students produced or their ability to find employment. Some of the institutions who take students with very high entrance qualifications have very poor records in producing teachers who go on to work in schools."

A full analysis of the tables will appear in Education in the Review tomorrow.

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