The teaching profession in Wales has more women and more pensioners among its ranks than at any time in the past decade, a new set of statistics has revealed.
According to the General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW), the proportion of male teachers has dropped below 25 per cent for the first time since 2002 when the body started recording data. At that time more than 28 per cent of registered teachers were men but there has been a steady decline ever since, despite efforts from the Welsh government to encourage more men into the profession.
There has also been a marked increase in the number of teachers who are eligible to draw their state pensions, figures show, as well as a big jump in the number of women leading schools.
Although the majority of registered teachers in Wales are now under 45, more than ever are aged over 65 - 1.7 per cent in 2013 compared with 0.8 per cent a decade ago. The proportion aged under 25 is at its lowest in five years at 4.5 per cent.
Owen Hathway, policy officer for teaching union NUT Cymru, said he was worried about the ageing workforce and the shortage of men entering the profession. Some teachers are working longer to ensure they have a healthy pension, which is creating a "logjam" and stopping younger teachers progressing, he said.
"Those already in position can't retire and at the other end of the scale younger teachers are not able to access work," he added. "This is a concern because we are going to struggle over the next few years to attract young graduates into the profession. Because of a lack of morale, increased workload and an increased pension age, teaching is not as attractive a prospect as it was."
He also called for more to be done to recruit men. "We need to ensure a mix of genders in schools because it does have a noticeable impact on pupils," he said. "We would like the Welsh government to look at why numbers of men are dropping."
Figures for March 2013 show that only 24.8 per cent of registered teachers are men. The proportion of male newly qualified teachers has also dropped to 25.1 per cent, the lowest in three years.
This is in contrast to England, where the Department for Education's school workforce statistics show a drop in the proportion of female teachers, from 74.6 per cent in 2010 to 73.2 per cent in 2011.
More women are breaking into leadership positions in Wales. The number of female headteachers is at an all-time high, up from 49.5 per cent a decade ago to 57.2 per cent this year.
The GTCW welcomed the news, and said the fact that many women deputy and assistant heads have attained the National Professional Qualification for Headship suggests that this trend will continue. It also said that few of the over-65s were likely to be teaching regularly in schools. Some would be working as supply teachers, while others were probably retired but still chose to register, it added.
The Welsh government did not comment on the figures directly, but said it remains committed to working to ensure the teaching workforce is representative of the communities it serves.
"This diversity includes the representation of men and women, as well as people from different ethnic backgrounds and those with disabilities, at all levels within the teaching profession," a spokesman said. "We value equally the knowledge and expertise of more experienced teachers alongside the skills and qualities that newly qualified teachers bring to the teaching workforce."
Overall numbers fall
School closures and amalgamations have led Wales' teaching workforce to shrink to its smallest size since 2004.
In March 2013 there were 37,862 teachers registered with the GTCW, down from 38,290 in 2012.
Likewise the number of heads is at its lowest since the GTCW first published headship figures in 2003, down from 1,680 in 2012 to 1,614 this year.
There has also been a huge drop in the number of newly qualified teachers, down from 1,548 in 2012 to 1,398 in 2013, which is the lowest since the GTCW first published figures in 2002.