PRIMARY teacher trainers, who want to curb worryingly high drop-out rates, need to screen out men who may have drifted into the profession, new research claims.
Pamela Lewis, of Canterbury Christ Church University College, says that men are almost twice as likely as women to drop out of their primary post-graduate certificate in educationcourse.
In 1998, 15 per cent of men failed to complete their primary PGCE courses, Ms Lewis said, after an analysis of figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Among women, the figure was only 8 per cent.
From interviews with 13 male PGCE students at her own college, Ms Lewis found that men who failed to finish their course were far more likely not to have had a long-term ambition to be a teacher.
Only two of the eight men who had dropped out had identified teaching as their chosen career before starting university. As a group, these men were also less likely to have experience of working with children, with half of them having only the minimu two weeks' observation experience in schools.
Ms Lewis said that retention rates would not improve unless training providers worked harder to identify candidates' commitment and experience at the interview stage, if necessary screening out the less committed. She said: "The Teacher Training Agency is asking providers to set targets, but even if they succeed in this, they will not raise men's participation rates in primary teaching if men are then going to drop out."
The report presented to a University of North London teacher recruitment conference last week, also recommends that men are allocated to tutor groups together to provide mutual support during training.
A spokeswoman for the TTA said the agency was looking at completion rates as part of its research into the issue of men's recruitment to primary teaching.
The research is available from Pamela Lewis, Canterbury Christ Church University College, Canterbury, Kent CT1 1QU, tel 01227 767700, e-mail: email@example.com