Where have the men gone, and why?

Where have the men gone, and why?

Alarming figures have shown that in every region in the country except inner London the number of male teachers leaving the profession grew between 2010 and 2019.

The fall is led by white men with almost 13,000 quitting in ten years – that is a 17 per cent drop in the number of white male teachers in our schools; 13,000 fewer role models for boys, many of whom don’t have a father at home.

The numbers of male teachers from BAME backgrounds, however, have increased and now reflect their numbers in wider society.

The figures from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) think tank show that last year just 35.5 per cent of teachers in secondary schools were male. The lowest it has ever been.

In primary schools, the number is 14.1 per cent, which has stayed about the same for the last five years.

Why are so many male teachers leaving the profession?

There are multiple reasons, but one is pay. Men are more likely than women to take work based on income, and with earning potential outside the classroom higher, the temptation is to follow the money.

This trend might also be reflected in the fact that despite male teachers representing just over a third of teaching staff in secondary schools, there are more male headteachers than women and more men in senior leadership roles.

There are also perhaps cultural reasons. In other parts of the world, teachers are revered, so the profession is a desirable occupation for all. But that reverence doesn’t exist in the UK, and that might be more likely to put off men rather than women.

It is perhaps also the case that women are more likely to stick at teaching than men, even if experiences are equally negative. If they have children, they might feel more obliged to stay in the classroom so they can be at home over the holidays.

And with female teachers dominating schools, it becomes even less attractive for their male colleagues, and so the trend is likely to accelerate, which we have seen.

But why should it matter?

Certainly, young boys need male role models and often they won’t have fathers at home to look up to. So, their male teachers become even more important, giving them guidance, and through demonstration educating them about the correct ways to behave and the correct attitudes to hold.

It is also important to have a balance, so schools don’t become too feminised and unintentionally create an environment to which boys are not attracted.

We have seen that white working-class boys do very poorly in school and more male teachers would help turn that around.

I would urge men to consider teaching as a career – or like me turn to it as a second career.

I spent five years in industry before becoming a teacher and I entered the profession with lots of experience to share.

If more men were to consider teaching as a second career, they would bring so much more to the classroom.

What would be helpful for the education sector is some detailed research into why men are not entering the profession and why those in it are leaving.

The government should commission an independent report.