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Men fail to gain places

Study shows more women in primary courses, writes John Howson.

HARD on the heels of the debate about boys and examinations comes evidence that men are less likely to be accepted for postgraduate teacher-training courses than women.

Analysis of applications for postgraduate certificate in education courses this autumn showed that by the start of September only 50 per cent of men who had applied for a training place had been accepted. This compares with 53 per cent of women who applied for places on primary PGCE courses and 69 per cent of women who had applied to train as a secondary teacher.

Even in severe shortage subjects such as physics, only 48 per cent of male applicants had been accepted compared with 63 per cent of the women. In geography, 76 per cent of female applicants were accepted, but only 59 per cent of male applicants.

Once, this difference might have been accounted for by a geater proportion of men than women turning down offers of places. Not this year. Although 23 men have withdrawn their acceptance on a maths PGCE course, 29 women have also quit. In English, just 15 men compared to 46 women have decided not to accept their place.

Only in modern languages, design and technology, information technology, music and PE are there likely to be more men starting PGCE courses than last year and even in these subjects the increases are relatively small. However, despite few acceptances, there will still be more men starting training as primary teachers this year.

With primary teaching already dominated by women and secondary following the same trend this discrepancy in acceptance rates is disappointing. Are the men just not good enough, and would "men-only" training courses encourage recruitment?

John Howson is a visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University.

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