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Town primary is bucking teacher gender trends

By Mid Devon Gazette  |  Posted: December 04, 2012

By David Shepherd

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THE number of men teaching in primaries may be at an all-time low but one Tiverton school is bucking the trend.

Recent figures have revealed that 18 per cent of the two million primary-aged boys across England are taught only by women, and many could go through their entire education without encountering a man in the classroom.

But it is a different story at Two Moors Primary School, where more than half of headteacher Roy Kerrigan's staff are males.

"We've got a huge number of blokes working here so instead of being the usual monk in a nunnery, there's a good mix of staff," Mr Kerrigan said.

There are 17 women and 11 men teaching at the Cowleymoor Road school, and half-a-dozen teaching assistants are also men.

Official statistics compiled for the first time have revealed how 360,485 boys aged four to 11 – or one in five – are attending schools which have female teachers.

Mr Kerrigan added: "To be fair, we haven't consciously gone out to recruit blokes but it just so happens over the last year or so we have had excellent young, male teachers coming through. It's great to have a gender balance, not just for the children, but also for the staff.

"Normally in primary schools we have issues like maternity leave, but it's the paternity breaks we have to deal with. Quite a lot of them are young guys and are becoming dads, so it is just a bit different.

"But personally I don't think it's an issue for the kids in the class, you're either a good teacher or you're not. I don't think as far as education goes it makes any difference, but it is nice for children to see male role models around the place.

"Certainly, within primary schools, it has been female-dominated and it is just refreshing from a social point of view to have a good mixture – but I don't think for one minute a man will necessarily be better than a female."

The Department for Education said campaigns to boost the number of male teachers in primary schools were beginning to bear fruit and officials believe a more balanced workforce would better reflect society at large and help children to engage confidently with both sexes.

But they insisted the aim was not to achieve statistical equality but to recruit 'the best possible teachers'.

A spokesman for the department said: "We want more men to consider primary teaching. Applications from men have already risen, with 50 per cent more male primary trainees in 2011/2012.

"We're encouraging men to apply for training places by holding events where they can speak to teaching experts and other trainees. Up to 1,000 high quality male graduates will take part this year in a new school experience programme which will boost numbers further."

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