For some years around two-thirds of secondary school teachers have been female, along with an overwhelming majority of primary school teachers. Men are disinclined to join the teaching profession for a variety of reasons, including the ever-increasing threat of false sexual offence claims from girls (Kato Harris comes to mind). Public schools, those charging fees, have a higher proportion of male teachers, as you’d expect. A piece in today’s Times by Nicola Woolcock, Education Correspondent:
Teacher training applicants have fallen by a third in a year, the latest figures show. Head teachers’ leaders blamed concerns over classroom stress and accountability, [J4MB: the implication being that women in particular are averse to stress and accountability) and confusion about routes into the profession, for the drop.
By mid-December 12,820 people had applied for postgraduate routes into teaching starting this autumn. This compares with 19,330 people at the same stage in 2016 and 20,330 in 2015. The decrease of 6,510 between 2017 and 2016 equates to 33 per cent.
The government has missed its teacher-recruitment targets for the past five years despite spending hundreds of millions of pounds on training new teachers. Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, described the figures as disastrous, “particularly as we know that there are going to be another half a million children coming through the system over the next nine years”.
He told the TES website: “I suspect that teacher workload, [J4MB: Preference Theory (2000) again – only one in seven women is ‘work-centred’, while four in seven men are] teacher accountability, all of that narrative, plays into the fact that people [J4MB: he means women, not ‘people’] – particularly young people perhaps making a decision about whether to go into accountancy, management consultancy or teaching – are just put off by something which looks like it’s not going to compare with the work-life balance they will get in a different career.”
The drop in postgraduate applications covered all age groups including career switchers and older applicants. The figures also showed decline across a range of subjects: those wanting to teach history fell by 46 per cent, science by 23 per cent, English by 25 per cent, maths by 28 per cent and French by 29 per cent. Design and technology was worst hit with the number of applicants falling by 67 per cent year on year.
For postgraduate primary school recruitment in England, the number of applicants fell by almost 39 per cent from 27,590 to 16,870. Male applicants fell in one year by 37 per cent, from 5,690 to 3,580, and female applicants by 32 per cent, from 13,640 to 9,240. [J4MB: this is a cynical way to present the statistics, in an area – primary schools – where there should be far more male teachers. There were 2,380 fewer male applicants, and 4,400 fewer female applicants. 65% of the decline in numbers can therefore be attributed to women.]
Among school-based training schemes for graduates, recognised by Ucas and included in its postgraduate figures, are School Direct and Scitt, where schools recruit trainees with specific jobs in mind. Other routes into teaching include a three-year undergraduate teacher-training degree and Teach First, the biggest graduate recruiter, whose figures are not included in those published by Ucas.
The Department for Education said that applications for teacher training had opened a week later this year so warned against drawing parallels.
A spokesman said: “There are now a record number of teachers in our schools – 15,500 more than in 2010. We are also creating a free website for schools to publish vacancies to help reduce costs and make it easier for aspiring and current teachers to find new posts.”
Incentives fail to lure graduates
Teacher training numbers are going from bad to worse as radical enticements and sops are waved around to attract people to the profession.
From golden hellos and bursaries of £30,000 for maths graduates to gym memberships and private healthcare packages, schools are battling not only for the best but also for the distinctly average.
But they cannot compete with starting salaries at big City firms. They are also hindered by an image problem around excessive marking and a fairly inflexible workplace. Schools have been slow to embrace working from home (not impossible thanks to dedicated lesson planning time), part-time posts and job shares. [J4MB: in plain English, ‘Schools have been slow to embrace demands from women’. The obvious answer, as in other professions, is to recruit more men, fewer women.]
The picture is particularly bleak in a dozen deprived hotspots that the government has euphemistically called “opportunity areas”. One head teacher in Grimsby wrote on the Teach First website that its schools were struggling to recruit from an “ever-diminishing pool . . . As a result, headteachers are frequently forced to employ unqualified teachers.”
Eye-catching schemes included Troops to Teachers, endorsed by David Cameron, which targeted ex-soldiers. It was branded a flop and recruitment closed after it was revealed last January that only 220 people were training or had qualified in six years.
Ministers are endorsing Teach Now, which encourages older professionals to switch into teaching, and Teach First is following a similar tack, encouraging executives to return to the classrooms in their home towns. It is hoped that this rallying call for a Dads and Mums’ Army will plug the gap left by young graduates.
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