We must erase the 'pervert' stigma

18th September 1998 at 01:00
My own in-depth interviews with five male primary newly qualified teachers in London support the work done by Dr Mary Thornton of Hertfordshire University on the problems facing the under-recruitment of men into the profession ("Pervert label puts men off teaching," TES, August 28).

Throughout the dialogues were tales of how pressures are brought to bear on any man wishing to teach young children.

Male students were tutored by male teachers on how to survive, for example, by averting their eyes during PE changing times, and so on.

Also there was very real abuse offered by male mates in the pub. One of their conclusions was that, during teacher training it should be made "safe" for men to talk about this stigma.

Dr Thornton's research also reports very high drop-out rates for primary male students, once they are recruited.

My sample indicated a two-out-of-three chance of non-completion and this is typical.

The fear of being labelled a "pervert" not only contributes to low entry rates, but also is part of high failure rates, which, as you report, Dr Thornton's research found to be a long-term trend The deep-seated and damaging stereotype that prevents children getting the good quality teachers they need must be firmly challenged.

Researchers should be encouraged to support your brave attempts to bring these hidden issues out into the open.

I know of several newly-qualified male teachers who are prepared to write about their challenging training experiences and the problems that confronted them.

The TES would be the ideal vehicle to support them in overcoming the difficulties they face.

There is no question that your front-page article will have raised the morale of these NQTs simply by letting them know that they are not alone in being stigmatised because of their gender.

E Burn Flat 11 Artisan House 36 Middlesex Street London E1

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