Teaching is not a man's world

10th January 2003 at 00:00
Both as a teacher and as a parent, I read the article "Men on the way out as teachers" with considerable interest (TESS, December 13). What particularly concerned me was your quoted figure that 92 per cent of probationers in primary are female.

My son John was an unsuccessful applicant for the PGCE primary course. With both parents as teachers, he had a pretty good understanding of what was required.

Prior to going to university he took a year out. As well as earning some money and travelling, he helped voluntarily in his old primary school for some weeks. In his final year at university in Aberdeen he helped for one day a week at a local primary school.

You can imagine his disappointment when, despite this experience and having graduated with a 2.1 honours degree in history and politics, he was turned down for a place.

On enquiry he was told that he needed more experience. That was more than four years ago. Since then he has been working in Japan as a teacher of English. I doubt very much whether he will ever reapply to become a primary teacher in Scotland.

While I can see the arguments against some form of positive discrimination, I feel that there is a real problem here. My own experience would suggest that very few male school-leavers give serious thought to primary teaching at the ages of 17 and 18.

As a result applicants for the BEd primary course are overwhelm-ingly female. I would therefore support giving preference to male applicants for the PGCE course. What could make this a more attractive option in the future is the suggestion that we should be training teachers to cover the 10-14 range and bridge the sectors.

Eric Melvin Headteacher Currie Community High School Edinburgh

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