Why we need more male primary school teachers

Arts and crafts in school

The Huffington Post recently reported that head teachers are calling for more men to join the education profession, particularly in early years and primary schools. Male primary school teachers support the call and argue that children need more male role models to reduce gender stereotypes in career choices and to more frequently encounter role models where they may be lacking.

According to the most recent government statistics, just 15.4 per cent of nursery/primary school teachers in England are male. And just three per cent of teachers in early years education, who teach two to five-year-olds, are male.

The NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers) trade union and professional association is calling for the Department of Education to acknowledge the low numbers of men employed in early years and want the government to work with the sector to identify ways to encourage more men into the profession.

Talking to Schools Week, James Bowen, head of the school leaders’ union, NAHT Edge section, said, “Early years education is one of the most vital moments in a child’s education, and the point at which attainment and life chances can be set.”

“A diverse early-years’ workforce can help children, especially those from deprived backgrounds, to visualise their futures and fulfil their educational potential. It’s important for all children to experience positive male role models, and to understand that men can be interested in education, science or reading, just as much as in football.”

According to Schools Week News, the NAHT’s early years sector council has participated in a government task group, conducting an in-depth review into the shortage of male teachers in early-years education.

Sally Bates, head of Wadsworth Fields Primary School in Nottingham and a member of the council, said, “Young children need male role-models, boys need to see education settings as reflecting their interests.

“The problem of society being suspicious of men working in this sector means that recruitment is low and this perception needs to be loudly challenged at every level.”

Adam Robbins, deputy head teacher of Roding Primary School in London, also states how important it is to promote interests beyond stereotypes, such as sport. Robbins explains, “My school has a male in-house storyteller, artist and musician. This gives all children in the early years, but particularly boys, more diverse examples of all the things men and boys can be interested in.”

A recent BBC report identified four ways to get more men teaching kids, stating:

1 – Challenge the stigma – early years teaching isn’t just for women
2 – Early Years Teaching salaries need to rise and government needs to offer more bursaries
3 – Government should act on gender diversity targets and offer more training
4 – Change the job name – ‘nursery nurses’ should be changed to ‘early years professionals’

Speaking to the BBC, Patrick Foley, head teacher at Southborough Primary School in Kent, said “Men should be encouraged to join these professions and the barriers to men making these choices should be investigated and removed.

“More men in these key roles would improve outcomes for children in their early years, which would have tremendous benefit for all children.”

Storytime at Nursery

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