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It's a man's life in primary school

THE Scottish Executive's recruitment campaign has begun to turn round the image of primary teaching as a profession "mainly for women", it was claimed last week.

During parliamentary exchanges, Nicol Stephen, Deputy Education Minister, said a poll by NFO System 3 which followed up the first stage of the campaign showed a small decrease in the number of those who regarded primary teaching as female-dominated.

The campaign focused on a young male primary teacher when it was launched last June - Scott Clark, a probationer teacher at Alexander Peden primary in Harthill, North Lanarkshire.

Mr Stephen was being pressed by Brian Monteith, the Tories' education spokesman, to promote primary teaching as a career for men. Mr Monteith said male role models for boys were particularly important because there are a growing number of single mothers and very few male primary teachers.

The 2000 school census showed only 7 per cent of primary teachers were men - but research from south of the border this week suggested that the number of male teachers makes little or no difference to boys' performance. The researchers, from Hertfordshire University, looked at test results from 846 primaries.

There was no evidence that boys did better in schools with more men on the staff. The only link which did show up was that boys' maths results were better in schools with male heads, who in turn were more likely to have more male teachers.

The proportion of male primary teachers in England is higher than in Scotland, at around 14 per cent. The Teacher Training Agency there has set a target of 15 per cent of men as primary trainees in 2002-03. There is no target in Scotland.

The Deputy Minister was reminded of another problem by Johann Lamont, the Glasgow Labour MSP, who pointed to the low number of women in promoted posts. While only 7 per cent of primary staff are men, they account for 22 per cent of primary heads. The 55 per cent of secondary teachers who are women translates into just 12 per cent of secondary heads.

Mr Stephen was asked to reflect on "the message that gives to women teachers and their pupils".

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