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It's not that hard being a man

Frank Lally is one of only three men among the 14 classroom teachers at North primary, Colchester, in Essex, but he says has no problems working in a women-dominated environment.

The 48-year-old laboured on building sites as a student and knows what things are like the other way round. "In the all-male environment there is no sense of weakness or flexibility, changing your mind is seen as bad."

But, the Year 5 and 6 teacher says, even informal staffroom conversations do not tend to have anything to do with gender.

"In primary education it is a very intimate atmosphere because there is a small number of people, so you tend to talk more with the people you are working with regardless of whether they are a man or a woman."

It is different in the classroom where he has noticed that boys react to him in a very different way than girls.

"They talk about things like football that they think we can both identify with. They are looking for you to confirm and say, 'I like what you like'.

The girls don't."

He is also conscious that with growing numbers of single parents, he has to be very aware of his status as a role model.

"Often I am the first consistent male figure pupils have seen in education and I could be the first major male presence they have had in their lives."

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