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'Outdated' tables come under fire

UNREPRESENTATIVE and out- of-date was the reaction of some teacher-training providers to the first performance tables for the profession.

They were concerned that the information - which dates back in some cases as far as 1994 - could be misused to create league tables, which would hit some institutions serving areas of need.

The Teacher Training Agency estimates publishing the profiles has cost Pounds 150,000 - "very good value for money" for 20,000 copies, says spokesman Stephen Hillier.

Most data, covering gender and ethnic mix of students, their entry qualifications, pass rates and employment success, comes from the year 199697. But it also includes the results of inspections. Because not all of the most recent primary inspections have been published, some data is from the first survey, begun in 1994.

Dr Kate Pretty, principal of Homerton College, Cambridge, said: "We must urge the TTA to use the best data available." Providers had been inspected intensively in the past year but that data was not included.

The Association of University Teachers said using out-of-date information was "irresponsible. If an institution has improved it's being made to suffer. "

Sheena Evans, TTA head of finance and quality, said 1996-97 was the latest year that could be used if tables were to include the employment rates of students leaving last year.

The agency has worked hard to produce data that cannot be turned into simple league tables. It admitted that across the range of indicators no one institution came out consistently top.

But inevitably the tables do not compare like with like: Manchester Metropolitan University (1996 intake: 1,330) is listed next to Maryvale Institute, Birmingham (1996 intake: 16).

Mary Russell, secretary of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said indicators like employment rates reflected matters that were out of the hands of institutions.

"There are so many imponderables. I don't think it gives a fair picture, " she said.

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