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Monstrous regiment marches on, but not up

The relentless increase in the domination of teaching by women continues apace.

Figures, which were published this week in the first full teacher census since 1998, show that the proportion of females in primary schools has increased from 91 per cent in 1996 and stood last September at 93 per cent.

The secondary figures for the same period rose from 51 per cent to 58 per cent (64 per cent if promoted staff are excluded).

The glass ceiling also appears to be as pervasive as ever, with females making up just 18 per cent of secondary heads, the same as the previous year (though 39 per cent of secondary deputes and 50 per cent of principal teachers are women, a slight improvement).

In the primary sector, where only 7 per cent of the teaching force is male, men still account for almost 20 per cent of primary headships.

The ageing profile of the profession is also reflected in the figures. The largest group of primary teachers, 5,263, are now in the 50-54 age group; the same is true for the secondary sector, at 5,729.

With age and gender taken together, the figures do not make attractive reading. There are only 241 men aged under 30 teaching in a primary force of 22,577; and just 900 secondary teachers out of 24,984 are men younger than 30.

Peter Peacock, Education Minister, tried to look on the bright side, remarking on the fact that teacher numbers increased between 2003 and 2004 (by 463) and pupil:teacher ratios came down (from 14.9:1 to 14.6:1, the lowest in 15 years.) Mr Peacock said: "Our decision to break the link of teacher numbers being tied to falling rolls is now paying dividends."

According to the census bulletin, however, the increase in teacher numbers "reflects changes in class contact time under the teachers' agreement. Most of the additional teachers being trained to meet the (Scottish) Executive's commitment of 53,000 teachers by 2007 had yet to enter the workforce."

But the Executive pointed out that an additional 634 students on PGCE courses are due to graduate this year and enter the workforce in August, while an extra 736 BEd students are due to emerge from the teacher education institutions this year.

Next session the number of students on full-time PGCE courses will rise to 3,350 from 2,356 - if TEIs succeed in meeting their targets (see above).

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