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Children draw men into teaching;Briefing;Research Focus

Male student primary teachers are generally motivated by altruistic reasons rather than selfish, careerist considerations, it seems.

Asked why they want to be a teacher they are most likely to reply that they like children, judging by a study at the University of Bristol. They want children to be happy in school and achieve high standards, and say they are seeking a career that is stimulating, challenging and of benefit to society.

Dianne Button, a research student at the university, has been analysing questionnaires completed by 50 male undergraduate and postgraduate students at seven initial teacher-training institutions.

"The percentage of male teachers within the teaching force has remained at around 18 per cent for 10 years," she said. "However, government statistics show that only 10 per cent of the 21 to 29-year-olds are male. When attempting to contact male students I became very aware of how few of them there are."

Most of the men surveyed (88 per cent) said that "liking children" was an important factor in their career decision. The other reasons deemed to be most important were:

* I want children to achieve high standards (78 per cent)

* Male teachers are respected by society (78 per cent)

* I want children to be happy at school (74 per cent)

* I like the caring atmosphere of the primary school (70 per cent)

* There is always a need for teachers (65 per cent)

Factors relating to pay and conditions appeared to have little influence on their decision:

* Good promotion prospects (only 39 per cent considered this important)

* Long holidays (29 per cent)

* Good salary (20 per cent)

An even smaller proportion (14 per cent) said that they were motivated by the prospect of becoming a headteacher. However, when asked to predict their likely career point in 10 years' time 50 per cent thought they would be a deputy head and 28 per cent a headteacher.

Students or ITT institutions prepared to take part in the research should contact Dianne Button on dibutton@compuserve.com She would also welcome contact with others interested in researching this area.

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