A piece in today’s Times:
Male teachers are abandoning high schools in their droves amid fears it has become a dead-end job where they are at risk of being branded paedophiles.
There are at least 1,500 fewer male teachers in Scottish secondary schools since 2009, a decrease of 16 per cent.
The Scottish Secondary Teachers Association said that schools no longer valued time-served expertise in dedicated subjects.Men are also increasingly concerned about being branded paedophiles, as social media has made it easier to spread malicious gossip.
Seamus Searson, general-secretary of the union, said that some teachers had been hounded out by vindictive heads who exploited false allegations to get rid of men they did not like.
The proposed shift to online teaching during the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated these concerns, with fears that teachers’ faces could be superimposed on “deep fake” images of abuse.
Mr Searson said: “We tell all teachers at induction, particularly men, to never be on their own with a child and do not give out phone numbers and email addresses. We are opposed to online teaching because there is no security over what will happen with online images. Some teachers who are falsely accused — and 99 per cent of allegations are baseless — are never the same again. The trust in the children is gone and they walk away.”
He added that a few teachers had been victimised because they were prepared to stand up to management, and then when an allegation came in the head teacher used it as an opportunity to get “back at them” by dragging out the investigation. “When teachers are suspended for a prolonged period the perception is created that ‘there is no smoke without fire’. I know two teachers that have left because of the way they were treated,” he said.
The latest teacher census confirms that teaching has become increasingly unattractive for middle-aged men, with a large dip in teachers in their forties.
Teaching is increasingly shifting from full-time to part-time hours. There has been a 37 per cent increase in part-time teachers since 2009 to 13,330. Only 68 per cent of the teacher workforce was full-time in 2019 compared with 79 per cent in 2009.
Mr Searson said that it was more difficult for women to leave the profession because “the unfortunate reality that women still take on more of the family commitments” meant that teaching hours had greater appeal.
A lack of additional rewards for being a subject specialist means that “many men feel they will be better paid taking their skills elsewhere”, which means that boys “particularly in the tougher areas where children have grown up without any respect for women” miss out on potential role models.
There were 9,972 male high-school teachers in 2009, comprising 39 per cent of the workforce, but last year this fell to 8,424, or 36 per cent of the workforce, while the number of female teachers has barely shifted.
The number of male primary school teachers has risen by 44 per cent to 2,673 since 2009, when they made up only 8 per cent of the workforce.
The rise in female primary teachers has failed to keep pace, increasing by only 5 per cent to 22,354.
However, in 2019 just 11 per cent of primary school teachers were male.
A Scottish government spokeswoman said teacher recruitment was a matter for local authorities but that an extra £75 million was given to councils to recruit about 1,400 additional qualified teachers. “Our Teaching Makes People campaign, alongside our work with universities on teacher education and the creation of alternative routes to make it more practical and flexible for people to access courses, aims to attract talented, committed people into the teaching profession,” she added.
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