Poor-quality recruits to university teacher training courses are leading to high drop-out rates, says an annual report on education courses.
The Good Teacher Training Guide 2009, by Alan Smithers and Pamela Robinson of the University of Buckingham, says wasted effort and resources could be reduced if entry requirements were raised.
Less than three fifths of recruits to undergraduate teacher training courses have two A levels and entry qualifications vary widely among training providers, the report states.
For undergraduates training to become primary school teachers, 92.3 per cent of the intake at the University of Reading had two A levels, compared with only 1.4 per cent at Bradford College.
For undergraduate secondary school training, the range was from 76.7 per cent at Brunel University to 6.5 per cent at University College Marjon Plymouth.
The percentage of postgraduate secondary trainees with good degrees also consistently falls below the average for all graduates, the authors say. In 2007, 53.5 per cent of entrants to the Postgraduate Certificate in Education for secondary training had first or 2:1 degrees, below the 58.4 per cent national average.
Teacher training providers that attract the most highly qualified trainees tend to have the highest completion rates and highest take-up of school posts, the report finds.
On average, just 63 per cent of the final-year trainees were working in state schools six months after completing their courses.
School-centred training programmes have a higher conversion rate. "There is a case therefore for increasing the proportion trained in schools to above its current 20 per cent," the authors conclude.
The report includes a "league table" of teacher training providers.
The University of Cambridge tops the rankings with the universities of Oxford and Exeter in second and third place. Bradford College, London South Bank and London Metropolitan universities are bottom of the league.