The figures from the Teacher Training Agency also confirm that fewer young people are choosing teaching as a career and that a quarter of students on BEd courses have less than two Ds and an E at A-level.
Ministers are known to be concerned by the lack of role models for boys in primary schools, where only 17 per cent of teachers are male. And the situation is likely to get worse.
Only 13 per cent of those starting primary teacher-training courses in 1997-98 were men - a slight drop on the previous year. The numbers of men training to be secondary teachers also fell to 40 per cent.
Recruitment from ethnic minorities is also failing to improve. About 16 out of every 17 new entrants training are white.
The Government has tried to plug the gap by encouraging the use of mentors from ethnic minorities in schools where the teaching force is predominantly white. John Howson, a former adviser to the TTA, said: "The overall figures on ethnic-minority recruitment are disappointing and the continued decline in men training as secondary teachers is particularly worrying." However, he pointed out that 1997-98 marked the low point for recruitment and said he expected to see an improvement in 1998-99 figures.
There is some good news for the Government. The qualification levels of those doing postgraduate teacher training have improved. More than half of those going on to train as primary teachers after completing their degree now gained a 2:1 or better.
And the number starting BEd teaching degrees with the equivalent of two Bs and a C at A-level also grew from 15 to 25 per cent. However, a quarter still train with less than two Ds and an E.
The statistics are contained in Initial Teacher Training - Performance Profiles published by the TTA this week.
The document gives details of the characteristics and qualifications of the intake of every teacher-training institution in England. It also gives inspection grades for each subject.
Anthea Millett, chief executive of the TTA, said: "Initial teacher- training institutions carry the enormous responsibility of preparing each new generation of teachers and these profiles offer the evidence about how well they are performing that task. We hope that ... trainers themselves will identify areas where they have scope to improve."