Teaching is still the feminine career

7th July 2006 at 01:00
The World Cup will not have done much to change their views, and primary boys still want to be footballers when they grow up. Teaching is for the girls.

The views of five to 14-year-olds, gathered as part of the Scottish Survey of Achievement published last week, shows that when it comes to careers the grip of gender stereotyping barely seems to have loosened over the decades, at least among the youngest pupils.

Becoming a footballer remains overwhelmingly the most popular choice among primary boys - 25 per cent mentioning it in P3, 31 per cent in P5 and 25 per cent in P7. But, the mysterious "S2" effect takes its toll here, too, as the appeal of a soccer life drops hugely to 6 per cent of boys in that year.

The career choices of the 26,000 youngsters who completed questionnaires will not be heartening news for those who wish to see more men in teaching.

Only 4 per cent of S2 boys cited it, compared to 14 per of girls in that year (although this was a drop from 21 per cent of P3 girls who wanted to be teachers).

Joining the police for boys and careers in hairdressing or as a vet for girls were the other top options. As expected, career preferences change with age, "presumably as pupils' awareness of a wider range of occupations increased and their job aspirations matured", the report states.

Other results confirm concerns about what pupils do in their spare time.

While around two-thirds of boys and girls take part in club or other group activities, watching television or videos and DVDs is the most popular pastime spent with adults - 62 per cent among S2 youngsters (53 per cent in P5) compared to 30 per cent who prefer playing sports or keeping fit (51 per cent in P5).

Pupils were also asked to rate themselves and the S2 effect is evident once again - in some instances dramatically. While around 30 per cent estimate their language abilities as exceptional or very good in P5, this drops to 10 per cent in S2. The proportions of pupils claiming they did not know how good they were also decreases with increasing age.

The pupil returns show that faltering performance in S2 is not for want of trying. More than three-quarters of second-years want to do well in English - although only 44 per cent say they work hard at it. And only 10 per cent of S2 pupils looked forward to English language lessons (down from 31 per cent in P5), while the figure is even lower for S2 maths at 5 per cent (down from 37 per cent in P5).

More than 2,000 teachers completed a questionnaire as part of the survey and they provided ample confirmation that pupils' motivation to learn decreased steadily through the 5-14 stages - from more than 50 per cent rating it very good in P3 English and maths to 20 per cent in S2.

The Scottish Executive, in its response to the parliamentary education committee's inquiry into pupil motivation, said it planned to pass on pupils' feedback on their learning to education authorities "as part of the support for 'intelligent' use of the SSA data to inform improvements".

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