Male primary teachers still elusive;Hot data;Briefing;Research Focus

2nd April 1999 at 01:00
The news on applications to teacher-training courses this year is mixed.

Applications from men for primary postgraduate certificate in education courses are within a whisker of last year's final total. This is good news for the Teacher Training Agency, awaiting the outcome of its government review. The TTA has consistently raised concerns about under-represented groups in teaching.

However, despite the rise in applications, fewer men have been offered places on primary PGCE courses, with only 33 per cent of about 2,000 applicants accepted. This compares with nearly 50 per cent of women applicants. It is disappointing given that 40 per cent of male applicants have been accepted over the past couple of years.

Most secondary teachers train as graduates. Here the news is also mixed. The introduction of the training bursary may be responsible for the significant rise in both male and female applicants to train as maths and science teachers. Physics is the one exception; applications for this PGCE course are still lagging behind last year's figures.

In the other shortage subjects there is so far little change from last year, with a decline in some modern languages offset by a small rise in IT and design and technology.

Interestingly, it is in the traditionally buoyant subjects of history, art, PE and English that applications from men, and in most cases women too, continue to fall. Overall, men account for around 38 per cent of applicants to secondary PGCE courses.

As secondary courses continue to recruit through the spring and summer, it is possible that the benefits of the new salary scales and other changes outlined in the Green Paper will make teaching more attractive to graduates.

But, the message seems to be clear; graduates who have to pay for their education expect paid training. How much longer can the Government resist widening the bursary scheme, or even introducing a training salary?

John Howson is a fellow of Oxford Brookes University and runs an education research company. E-mail:

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