Primary vocation;Research focus;Briefing

24th September 1999 at 01:00
ADVERTISING campaigns, golden hellos and bursaries may be helping to ease the Government's secondary teacher recruitment problems. But such tactics don't lure students into primary teaching.

Few opt to become primary teachers in response to blandishments from the Teacher Training Agency or the Government. Even the Careers Service has little influence on their decision to teach, according to University of Hertfordshire research.

Most primary teachers enter the job for altruistic reasons and their interest is often fanned by work-experience in schools.

Researchers Mary Thornton, Ivan Reid and Pat Bricheno questioned 1,611 students who entered postgraduate certificate in education and undergraduate primary teacher courses last autumn. They said: "Virtually all groups of respondents, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, old or young, male or female, in all institutions ... stated that they enjoyed working with children, wanted to teach and especially wanted to work with primary-age children."

Older students on PGCE courses and those who had had other jobs were especially likely to say that salary, holidays, job security and parental responsibilities swayed them towards primary teaching.

The University of Hertfordshire team's findings have been corroborated by a survey of 549 teacher-training students in the north-west of England. Freda Bridge, of Edge Hill College of Higher Education, found that students on primary training courses were more likely to say that the opportunity to work with children had drawn them into teaching. Ninety per cent of them cited this "pull" factor compared with only 68 per cent of secondary trainees.

"Students' reasons for choosing primary school teaching as a career", by Mary Thornton, Ivan Reid and Pat Bricheno, University of Hertfordshire e-mail m.e.thornton@herts.ac.uk.

"Student teachers' views of teaching as a profession", by Freda Bridge, Edge Hill College of Higher Education e-mail bridgf@edgehill.ac.uk

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