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Discipline fears raised by lack of male teachers


Discipline fears raised by lack of male teachers
By Richard Garner, Independent
Published: 31 July 2007

More than a million pupils in primary schools have no men teaching them. In addition, nearly 300,000 will end their six years of primary schooling without being taught by a male teacher.

Research published today suggests more male teachers would improve discipline. A survey of boys aged five to 11 found 51 per cent believed the presence of a male teacher would make them behave better. Forty-two per cent said it would make them work harder.

The Teaching and Development Agency for Schools (TDAS), which is responsible for teacher recruitment, is stepping up its efforts to recruit male teachers. Many potential recruits, it believes, may be put off by what they perceive to be the low salary levels offered to teachers. In addition, teachers' leaders have warned that some may fear false abuse allegations if they are seen to comfort a pupil.

But potential male recruits also tend to put in late applications for training courses and fail to take as much trouble with their CVs as women. Primary school teaching is still a popular career option and most courses are oversubscribed. So the agency is giving grants to teacher training organisers to help potential male recruits to "go the extra mile" and take more care over their applications.

Graham Holley, the chief executive of TDAS, said: "We need more men primary school teachers so that teaching is more representative of society as a whole. Teaching should be as diverse as the rest of the population. Second, if we're not attracting sufficient numbers of men we're not attracting all the talent.

"Third, if you've got more men in the primary classroom they can act as social role models for young boys. That's particularly necessary in inner cities where there are more children from one-parent families who may have no male role model at home."

Figures show that a television recruitment drive has been successful. Applications from men to primary teaching courses have risen from 1,500 in 2001-2 to 2,300 by 2005-6 (14 per cent of all applications). This year the final figure is likely to rise to 19 per cent. But that still leaves men making up only 16 per cent of the profession, with two out of five pupils (1.4million) currently not being taught by a man and one in 12 (290,000) never likely to encounter a male teacher throughout their six years of primary schooling.

"We have begun to stress the career prospects in adverts," said Mr Holley. "For instance, do potential recruits realise there are five times as many primary as secondary schools - so they are five times more likely to make it to headship.

"Also, when we tell them the salaries that are on offer now, we tend to find they have underestimated them." Currently a primary teacher can earn up to £41,004 by staying in the classroom.

"The number of men applying for primary school training courses is increasing but not quickly enough," said Mr Holley."I would encourage men who are interested in teaching to make the strongest application possible. This will often mean getting work experience in schools or working with young people."

It may help would-be male applicants to realise the boys want them there. The study found three-quarters of boys between eight and 11 were in favour of schools having teachers of both genders; 48 per cent believed that men set good examples for them in particular and 28 per cent thought male teachers understood them better.



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