Like lots of male primary school teachers, I’m in the minority at work. There is only me and two other classroom teachers who are male, plus the deputy head. We’re a four-form entry school, so pretty big, and the staffroom is usually a noisy, chatty place.
No one ever really assumes I have children. I turn 40 this year and I’ve been living with my girlfriend for the past 10 years. Sometimes I’ll be asked if I’m going to propose to her, but mostly with the assumption that I don’t want to or that it’s something I’m avoiding, rather than it being something that we’re just saving up to do.
I suppose it’s the same about children. Lots of the older teachers will tell me that there is plenty of time to have children – and will ask how old my girlfriend is. There is definitely a presumption that she must be super-keen to have children and I’m not, when actually, if anything, I would say it is the other way around.
I’ve never been made to feel as if the parents think it’s odd that I don’t have children. I’m quite a private person and although some teachers might talk about that kind of thing with their parents, it never really comes up.
One thing that is really frustrating is the assumption that I can attend school functions on weekends and evenings because I haven’t got children to get back to. I actually have caring responsibilities, as my father is a widower and disabled, and I need to be able to visit him once a day. This is always “forgotten”; I definitely feel like it’s not taken as seriously as people who have children.
For various reasons, my girlfriend and I might not have children, but I hope one day we might. I don’t think having children would make me a better or worse teacher – I don’t think making those comparisons is actually helpful.
It’s the same as being male or female, or young or old. Your status is inconsequential. The only thing that matters is how you are in the classroom.