New targets for male and black teachers

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The Independent Online
TEACHER TRAINING colleges are to be given targets for increasing the number of students recruited from the ethnic minorities after new figures showed 28 colleges had an all-white entry.

Targets will also be set for raising the number of men training to be teachers after the first teacher training league tables showed some courses were 96 per cent female.

The Teacher Training Agency, which launched a national advertising campaign earlier this year under the slogan "No one forgets a good teacher", promised research into colleges' marketing.

Schools are facing acute shortages of teachers, particularly in subjects such as maths and science.

A Green Paper on teachers' pay and conditions, due to be published later this autumn, is expected to propose far reaching reforms to try to attract more people into the profession.

The agency's figures, covering the 1996-97 academic year, show 5 per cent of people entering teacher training for primary and 7 per cent of those starting to train for secondary school teaching were from ethnic minorities. Figures for the number of male trainees tell a similar story. Men accounted for just 14 per cent of people entering primary teacher training, although they represented 43 per cent of secondary trainees.

The tables also highlighted the low A-level grades needed to enter teacher training. On average only 15 per cent of students entering primary teacher training degrees had 20 or more A-level points - the equivalent of a B and two Cs. Nearly 60 per cent of those starting postgraduate training for secondary schools and slightly less than half of primary school trainees had an upper second-class degree.

Colleges disputed the figures, saying that they were out of date and, in some cases, inaccurate.

Dr Kate Perry, principal of Homerton College, Cambridge, said the tables excluded the latest data. "We have to be as accurate as possible on all these facts and figures," she said.

Harkirtan Singh-Raud, of Liverpool John Moores University, has been studying attitudes to teaching among Asian graduates.

The tables show John Moores had no ethnic minority entrants for primary teacher training, but Dr Singh-Raud said there was an acute shortage of role models. "It's a vicious circle. We can't get people on campus, so we can't produce enough ethnic minority teachers and there are not the role models to get them on to the campus," he said.

Anthea Millett, the agency's chief executive, said: "The numbers of men coming into teaching is very small. We can't afford not to trawl for people in half of the population. We need to bring in more recruits and we want more men and people from ethnic minorities."

She said the agency would learn lessons from the colleges that best attract people from ethnic minorities.

She added: "We have to present teaching as a profession to make it more exciting to men, which means looking at the intellectual challenges of teaching, the rigour and the career prospects."