New universities and colleges have sprung a few surprises this week in an annual ranking of teacher training courses traditionally dominated by old universities.
The league table of the best university and college providers, published by the Teacher Training Agency, reveals that Bradford College has leapt 53 places. This follows last year's disastrous Quality Assurance Agency subject review, when the college received the lowest score ever recorded.
Bradford attributed its new standing largely to higher entry qualifications and partnerships with local schools. "We are pleased to have this public confirmation of the high standard of our courses," said Gordon Lakin, director of academic programmes.
In another unexpected result, Staffordshire University knocked long-time leader Oxford University into second place.
Alan Smithers of Liverpool University's Centre for Education and Employment Research, who compiled the ranking, said Staffordshire had succeeded by specialising in business studies teaching. Staffordshire's top slot was all the more impressive because, apart from specialist providers, pre-1992 universities dominate the top.
New universities and colleges of higher education boast most of the largest intakes but bring up the rear of the table, including the whole of the bottom third. At the bottom of the table, once again, is London Metropolitan University.
Professor Smithers said that school-centred schemes had moved up this year, mainly through more favourable Ofsted ratings, with scores at levels close to Oxford and Cambridge.
Recruitment indicators are moving in the right direction, according to Professor Smithers. In 2001-02, there were more recruits to primary and secondary training than in the previous five years. Ofsted has rated the quality of provision higher, and entry qualifications are improving. But few men are being attracted to primary teaching still, and few of the entrants to primary and secondary teaching are from ethnic minorities.
The tables are compiled using three performance indicators: the qualifications of students on entry; course Ofsted ratings; and the proportion of final-year students in a teaching post.
This year, for the first time, employment-based routes - where students train as they teach - have been included. The tables show that these are catering for three times as many trainees as schools-based schemes. They are attracting more men to primary schools, more ethnic minorities to primary and secondary schools, and bringing people into shortage subjects.