The spectre of tougher minimum-entry requirements for all initial teacher training courses was raised this week by the parliamentary education and employment committee.
Taking evidence from the Teacher Training Agency, the select committee's chair, Margaret Hodge, asked why the agency was prepared to fund teacher training courses where the average A-level points score of entrants was often as low as ten - equivalent to three Ds at A level. The minimum requirement is currently GCSEs in English and Maths.
TTA advisor John Howson said that academic autonomy gives universities full control over their own matriculation, and that the TTA was obliged to provide money wherever an HE institution met its student number quota.
But education subcommittee member Theresa May, Tory MP for Maidenhead, asked: "Wouldn't it be better to look more closely at the quality of the intake, rather than just at the quality of the output?" TTA chief executive Anthea Millet said the agency had been creating a database that included entrance data on students. "The figures form the basis of performance tables," she said. "But it is up to the Government how it uses them."
In the short term, the TTA has set itself targets to raise entrants' qualifications, including a requirement that all entering postgraduate courses had at least a 2:1 degree.
Ms Millet welcomed the Government's announcement this week that it would provide Pounds 10 million "to help encourage graduates to take up teaching".