Increasing numbers of high performing graduates are going on to train as primary and secondary teachers, according to new official figures.
Department for Education (DfE) statistics show 12 per cent of first-year entrants to postgraduate teaching courses in 2011-12 already held first class honours degrees, which was one percentage point higher than a year previously.
The proportion of first year trainee teachers on postgraduate level courses holding at least a 2:1 degree also increased by three percentage points to 67 per cent in 2011-12, while 94 per cent achieved at least a 2:2.
As well as being increasingly skilled, job prospects for new teachers are also improving, with 84 per cent of the 32,900 final year trainees awarded qualified teacher status in 2011-12 securing a job at a school within six months of qualifying.
This included 83 per cent of those who trained as primary teachers and 85 per cent who trained to teach in secondary schools, and was markedly up from the 79 per cent who were employed in a teaching post within six months of completing their teacher training in 2010-11.
Commenting on these figures, Brian Lightman of the Association of School and College Leaders described the rising number of trainee teachers possessing good degrees as "very good news".
However, he warned that schools in many parts of the country are still finding it difficult to recruit sufficient numbers of high quality teachers specialising in core subjects like English, maths and science.
The DfE's new figures also illustrated various other characteristics among those individuals on the first year of teacher training courses in 2011-12.
For example, the proportion of trainee primary school teachers who were male rose by three percentage points to 19 per cent, while men also accounted for 38 per cent of those training to teach at secondary level.
In terms of age, 51 per cent of all first-year trainees were aged 25 or over, including 47 per cent of trainee primary teachers and 39 per cent of trainee secondary teachers.
Moreover, 12 per cent of first-year trainees declared themselves as of a minority ethnic background - comprising nine per cent of trainee primary teachers and 15 per cent of trainee secondary teachers - and seven per cent had a declared disability.
Posted by Harriet McGowan