Male teachers tipped to vanish from our primary classrooms
The number of male teachers is in rapid decline and experts warn they will disappear from primary schools unless there is government action to encourage them back into the profession.
Research from Macquarie University shows male teachers dropped from 28.5 per cent of primary school teachers in 1977 to just 18 per cent today.
They are also declining in secondary schools, with 54 per cent of teaching staff male in 1977 compared with about 40 per cent today.
Lead author of the research Kevin McGrath has predicted there will be no male teachers in primary schools by 2067, while male secondary teachers will drop by a further 5 per cent in the next decade. Low pay and easier entry into teaching degrees has devalued the profession and had an impact on the number of males attracted to the sector.
But Dr McGrath said a bigger problem was the perception it was not a masculine profession.
“The main people who enrol in teaching courses are young women who have just finished high school,” he said. “Men are more likely to try and pursue the things that fit those masculine traits and teaching is seen as women’s work. The more that continues, the fewer men there are and the fewer men we see to challenge those perceptions.”
Dr McGrath called for a largescale advertising campaigns to encourage men into teaching and help change the perception it was a profession for women.
He said there should also be more scholarships for men to do teaching courses, like there are for women in male-dominated industries.
Primary teacher Anthony Fennell is one of four male teachers out of 20 at Epping North Public School in Sydney’s northwest.
Mr Fennell, 30, said there was a more even distribution of men and women studying teaching at university but men tended to drop off when it came to getting a job.
“Male teachers aren’t getting the same sort of favourable treatment when it comes to casual positions. That’s how you translate a university graduation into a full-time gig, you take up some casual roles,” Mr Fennell said.
He added some men were concerned about the perception of child-sex abuse among male teachers. “Obviously it is a misconception, but there is definitely that perception that if you are a man working with kids there must be something untoward going on there,” he said.
Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said there was “no silver bullet” to address the decline of male teachers.
“States and territories and non-government schools are responsible for which teachers work in schools, but for our part, the Turnbull government is working to raise the perceptions of teachers to make it a more attractive long-term career for everyone,” Senator Birmingham said.
He said the federal government had improved the quality of teaching courses and forced teachers to have better literacy in an effort to raise the profile of the profession.
Anthony Fennell teaches at Sydney’s Epping North primary