General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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Too many men in top school jobs say unions


Too many men in top school jobs say unions


The Irish News

Schools are in danger of facing a surge of sex discrimination cases if they continue awarding too many top jobs to men.

Men occupy almost half of all principal posts despite women making up a much larger part of the teaching force, particularly at primary level.

New figures reveal the proportion of male teachers being promoted is accelerating at a time when more men than ever are ruling out careers in teaching.

If three quarters of teachers are women a similar proportion should be principals, experts say.

The anomaly is causing a head-ache for employers working to reverse what has been described as the feminisation of the profession. The decline of men is said to have accelerated after St Joseph's Training College in Belfast - which specialised in teacher education for males - merged with St Mary's in 1985.

It is feared that without a dedicated institution for men, numbers will continue to dwindle.

Despite the number of male teachers being chronically low, Department of Education statistics show there are almost as many male principals as females - 572 compared to 589.

The figures also show that male headteachers outnumber their fe-male counterparts in both the southern and south-eastern education board areas.

Separate information from a report presented to the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools further highlights the problem.

Between April last year and March this year 26 men and 24 women were appointed as principals of Catholic schools, even though more women applied.

Nearly two thirds of principals and vice-principals in grammar schools are male, according to research by the General Teaching Council. It also notes that 232 of the 364 non-grammar principals and vice-principals are men.

Experts say there are reasons why women do not put themselves forward for principals' posts. Some are not encouraged to apply whereas others have family commitments.

They note, however, that it is mostly women who are taking the Professional Qualification for Headship, which prepares teachers for management jobs.

Employers face a quandary. Although they want to attract more men they are increasingly concerned about under-representation of female teachers in higher posts.

Teachers' unions describe the situation as "a disgrace".

"On maternity pay teachers get a raw deal and on a range of equal opportunity issues including job sharing, work-life balance, teachers' employers are niggardly and lacking in imagination," Frank Bunting of the INTO said.

"The ghettoisation of so many extremely capable women teachers in lower-paying teaching and teaching-principal positions has more than a whiff of sex discrimination about it and demonstrates that action rather than blather is needed to redress this wrong."


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