Male teachers worry about working at primary schools
MEN are ruling out becoming primary school teachers because they fear being viewed with suspicion for wanting to work with children, the head of an education charity has said.
Teachers, unions and charities are urging young men to pay less attention to traditional stereotypes and sign up to work with younger children.
Julian Stanley, a former teacher and now chief executive of Education Support Partnership, a charity providing wellbeing support to education staff, said: “The concern of safeguarding is huge for men. It’s about whether you can work with children and be viewed with suspicion. We have to stick to careful rules but it doesn’t exclude you from creating strong relationships.”
The number of male primary schoolteachers is at an all-time low, with 15 per cent of nursery and primary schoolteachers in England being male.
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, blamed sexism. She said: “Men are put off by the idea that they’re supposedly not meant to work in jobs involving children, which is old-fashioned think- ing that we need to move beyond. Not everyone has what it takes to be a great primary teacher, but whether you can do it isn’t to do with whether you’re male or female.”
Ben King, 30, a Year 5 teacher at a Horsham primary school, feels that although it is not often spoken about, there is an underlying suspicion of men who teach in primary schools.
“There are issues surrounding safeguarding which are not spoken about. For example, when girls get changed for PE I leave the room. We are taught to look out for signs of abuse like bruises when they get changed,” he said.
“I don’t feel comfortable doing that and they are supervised by female staff instead. The same goes for hugging a child who is hurt. I don’t think female teachers have the same issue.”
Mr King attributes it to traditional perceptions of what a primary teacher looks like. He added: “It’s a sociological construct written into our society that men don’t teach in primary schools.”
David Keytes, 29, who started teaching a Year 4 class in Surrey after eight years in sales, said he believed boys need more role models to encourage them into teaching.