Teacher profile still white and female;Briefing;Document of the week

17th September 1999 at 01:00
One in four new entrants for teaching degrees had D and E grade A-levels. Jon Slater and Bibi Berki report

EVERYTHING you wanted to know about teacher-training colleges - and some things you probably didn't - is in a guide for would-be teachers published by the Government agency responsible for training.

The Initial Teacher Training Performance Profiles are part of the Government's strategy for raising the quality of initial teacher training and assisting teacher recruitment. As she unveiled this year's figures education minister Estelle Morris declared "we need to achieve a teaching profession that is more representative of

society".

The profiles cover education courses at 104 teacher-training institutions in England, including entry qualifications, Office for Standards in Education inspection grades and the percentage of male entrants and those from ethnic-minority backgrounds.

The agency says comparisons with last year's profiles are unhelpful because the information was compiled and presented in different ways. However, a number of changes are evident.

All subjects at secondary training, except modern languages, have seen an increase in the number of graduates with 2.1 or first-class degrees. Golden hello government incentives have lured 33 per cent more graduates into the crisis subject of maths and 24 per cent into sciences.

Modern languages - the next subject to benefit from the scheme - saw a 5 per cent fall.

The typical postgraduate entrant to primary teacher training is a well-qualified white female with an arts or social sciences degree. In the secondary sector, the typical postgraduate entrant is a white female with an English or history degree.

A-level grades of undergraduates entering teacher training continue to be well below the average for other degree subjects. More than a quarter of those starting teaching degrees had the equivalent of two Ds and an E at A-level, although numbers with at least two Bs and a C rose by 10 percentage points to 25 per cent.

Concerns that sixth-formers view a teaching degree as a

second-class option are unlikely to be dispelled. Only about a third of the 32,000 teacher trainees took the undergraduate route.

Despite efforts of colleges such as the University of North London where 54 per cent of its primary students are from ethnic-

minority backgrounds, non-white recruitment did not improve.

Male recruitment is still a problem. The profiles show a fall in numbers of those starting primary and secondary courses.

To help prospective entrants decide which college is for them, the profiles also give the top 25 institutions across a range of indicators, including gender, ethnicity and the proportion of those who gain a job in teaching within a year of completing the course.

The University of North London also comes out top for those wanting to work in primary schools, 97 per cent of its graduates found a job within 12 months of leaving.

However, at other colleges almost half of those who complete courses fail to get a job. A third of newly-qualified secondary teachers and a quarter of those just out of primary teacher training weren't working in the classroom a year later.

Officials hope that colleges will look at how their rivals are doing and use it as a spur for improvement as the profiles have been designed so that comparisons can be made between individual institutions rather than for overall conclusions. However, those interested in England-wide statistics can find them on the accompanying CD-Rom.

Initial Teacher Training - Performance Profiles are available from the Teacher Training Agency, 13th Floor, Portland House, Stag Place, London SW1E 5TT

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