Men on the way out as teachers

David Henderson

Startling figures from the General Teaching Council for Scotland confirm that men could soon be a rare breed in the staffroom, with even that bastion of male domination - the secondary headship - threatened by creeping feminisation.

Analysis of this year's 2,286 one-year probationers reveals that there are no new male primary teachers in six local authorities - Clackmannanshire, East Dunbartonshire, Orkney, Renfrewshire, Borders and the Western Isles.

In Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, there are no new male teachers at all in the primary or secondary sectors.

Elsewhere, there are no new male chemistry or physics teachers in South Lanarkshire, no new male teachers of German in the whole of Scotland and only one male home economics teacher. Figures show that 92 per cent of probationers in primary are women and 65 per cent in secondary.

Meanwhile, at the recent Scottish Qualification for Headship awards ceremony, only 22 per cent of successful candidates were men. "Given that the qualification will be mandatory from 2005, the signs are already clear that even the male secondary headteacher will soon be a dying breed. Who would have believed it?" asks Matthew MacIver, GTC registrar.

He said: "If we are looking for male role models in the classroom, there is little doubt that we do have a problem. Teaching is simply not an attractive career for the fifth and sixth year boy about to begin a university course.

"Interestingly, neither is it all that attractive for the fifth or sixth-year girl. Only around half of the total cohort (590 in primary and 526 in secondary) came from the under-30 age range."

forty-two per cent of the entrants in primary were over 30, and 50 per cent in secondary. "Increasingly, we are attracting more mature entrants into the profession," he points out.

In craft, design and technology, 46 per cent of entrants are over 30; in French, 41 per cent; in mathematics, 37 per cent; and English, 34 per cent.

Among secondary entrants, 30 per cent are aged between 30 and 39 and 20 per cent are in the 40-55 age range. "Is this a pointer to where we should be looking for more male teachers? If so, should we now be asking some very pointed questions about access to initial teacher education for mature entrants?" Mr MacIver asks.

He told The TES Scotland: "Are we, for example, creating unnecessary barriers to entry to the profession by requiring traditional academic qualifications? Do we need to introduce a different style of training, particularly for some secondary subjects? Are flexible part-time programmes the answer?

"Should the postgraduate programmes be redesigned as a two-year programme incorporating the PGCE year and the induction year? Now that the Standard for Full Registration is the ultimate goal that would seem to be a sensible move," Mr MacIver says.

He also speculates that more mature student teachers interview better and slip ahead of younger candidates in the six education faculties involved in initial training.

"The time may have come for a radical review of the whole interview system. It is expensive, time-consuming and, in the end, subjective," the registrar maintains.

Three teachers who learned their craft south of the border through the fast-track graduate teacher programme have been told they cannot work in Scotland without further qualifications.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland has so far refused to accept that teachers meet its standard for classrooms and ordered them to top up their experience before being accepted for full registration.

But Judith Sischy, director of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools, said such students were being treated unfairly and "misled" into believing they were eligible to work in Scotland. "I feel sorry for these students. They are going through this scheme and expecting to be fully registered but have no idea they'll experience this problem in Scotland," Mrs Sischy told a GTC meeting in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

However, Bill Guthrie, convener of the committee responsible for scrutinising exceptional admissions to the GTC's register, said Ofsted south of the border had made similar complaints about the shortfalls in training, largely centred on the lack of professional and pedagogic knowledge and skills.

The number of teachers qualifying through the programme has risen ten-fold in four years and now accounts for over 3,000 newly qualified teachers a year, or one in ten of all new entrants south of the border. Some 450 of the GTP students trained entirely in schools without any input from any higher education institution. None of the course providers were accredited, Mr Guthrie pointed out.

In contrast, 145 teachers from around the world have been accepted for registration between August and October.

(blob) The GTC has warned the Scottish Executive and employers that their preference for "adultpupil ratios" and not "teacherpupil ratios" will not wash with parents. "There ain't no substitute for teachers," Norma Watson, its convener, said.

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David Henderson

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