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Primary attraction

Last year there was a 40 per cent increase in the number of men enquiring about primary teacher training. But the Teacher Training Agency knows that, when it comes to the long term, most men still plump for secondary teaching because they consider it more of a career.

The agency has just launched a 12-point mail-out to 4,500 men who have indicated an interest in the job, pointing out that opportunities to climb the career ladder are more plentiful in primary schools than in secondaries, and that pay prospects are not so different.

The TTA also wants potential recruits to look at the careers of fast-track headteachers such as Tim Callaway of St Leonard's school in the London borough of Lambeth, who became a head within 10 years of qualifying, earns pound;40,000, and says primary school teaching is one of the best jobs going. He says: "Men tend to think primary teaching is only about little kids, wiping noses, but there is so much you can do and contribute.

"Children make so much progress at this age. They come in at reception and some of them aren't even toilet trained. Then when they leave you look at them and think, 'My goodness, you're a young adult now'."

Mr Callaway got into teaching because of male role models from his old school days such as "the marvellous Mr Priestley, a 63-year-old ex-miner from Yorkshire who had the most wonderful general knowledge about everything".

His only word of caution to men thinking of following in his footsteps is that they'll have to be prepared to put in the same 60 hours a week that he does.

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