Could do better

Half of all students who train to be teachers actually go on to teach. Melanie Newman reports

August 17, 2009

A league table of teacher training courses puts the University of Cambridge as the top provider.

The study, by the University of Buckingham, ranks the universities of Oxford and Exeter in second and third place.

The authors, Alan Smithers and Pamela Robinson of Buckingham’s Centre for Education and Employment Research, note the predominance in the top ten of institutions that head the general university league tables.

“Since the former polytechnics and colleges of education specialise in teacher training, this is somewhat surprising,” they say.

Bradford College, London South Bank University and London Metropolitan University are the lowest-ranked institutions in the study.

The report shows that entry qualifications are generally low for undergraduate and graduate routes into teacher training.

For the undergraduate training route, the average Universities and Colleges Admissions Service score for entry into education courses is among the lowest for all fields of study.

Nevertheless, there is wide variation in qualifications between institutions.

For example, 92 per cent of primary trainees at the University of Reading have at least two A levels, compared with just 1.4 per cent at Bradford College.

The percentage of postgraduate secondary trainees with good degrees consistently falls below the average for all graduates, the study, The Good Teacher Training Guide 2009, found. The highest proportions are at the Royal Academy of Dance, where 87.5 per cent of entrants for the secondary PGCE had firsts and 2:1 degrees, and the Central School of Speech and Drama, where the proportion is 84.4 per cent.

“These levels contrast sharply with those at the other end of the scale – London South Bank (20 per cent) and Sunderland (29.3 per cent),” the report notes.

Entry rates into teaching jobs also varied wildly. At least nine out of ten primary trainees from the universities of Northampton, Birmingham and Chester made it to the classroom. Generally, though, the record of universities is poor, with only 63 per cent of final-year trainees working in state schools six months after completion.

“It is extraordinary that we have to train almost double the number of teachers as are actually needed,” the authors say.

In 2007-08 there was a dropout rate of almost 40 per cent between the final year of teacher training and taking a post in a state school.

A further 18 per cent of newly qualified teachers leave during their first three years of work. “This is consistent with the finding that about half those with qualified teacher status in this country are not working in schools.

“If ways could be found of increasing completion on courses, induction and retention, then there could be considerable saving on training costs.”

The full report can be accessed at:

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