Belfast Telegraph

Concern as men make up just 22% of teaching profession in Northern Ireland

By Rebecca Black

The finding that the number of male teachers in Northern Ireland is at a three-year low at just 22% of the workforce has been described as a "worrying and sad statistic".

Men are significantly under-represented in the profession, accounting for less than a quarter of teachers.

And that number continues to steadily decrease, with even fewer males in the younger age groups.

The number of male teachers in March 2015 was 6,177 out of a total of 26,732. In 2016 it was 6,143 out of 26,749. In 2017 it was 6,115 out of 26,719.

The figures from the General Teaching Council (GTC) also show variation in the proportion of male and female teachers at different types of schools.

In March 2017 some 21% of teachers at Catholic maintained schools were male, compared to 19% at controlled schools, and 33% at voluntary grammar schools.

The figures show that the total number of teachers registered with the GTC remained steady over the last three years.

They also show that most of the workforce was aged between 35 and 40.

The biggest gap between male and female teachers was found in the younger age categories.

For example, in the 24 years and under bracket just 20% (178 out of 850) were men.

The percentage increases to 21.8% in the 25-29 age group, but goes back down to 20% for the 30-34 and 35-39 categories.

It increases in the older groups, with 21% between 40-44, 22% between 45-49, 25% between 50-54, 27% between 55-59, and 28% between 60-64.

The GTC is the self-regulatory professional body for teachers in Northern Ireland.

Justin McCamphill of the NASUWT union said the issue was wider than statistics suggested, with both genders questioning whether they should pursue a career in the profession.

"More and more young people, not just men, are asking if teaching is the career for them, while many of those who are in the classroom are leaving for better paid work elsewhere," he said.

"Teaching is becoming a more and more unattractive profession in general. Since 2010 teachers' pay has fallen 18% behind inflation, while workload has spiralled out of control. This is a pattern which will continue if action is not taken to address these pressing concerns.

"Men may be exiting the profession in slightly greater numbers than women, but if pay and workload are not addressed we will not have teachers of any gender left in the classroom."

Lewis Love, former head of Omagh High and an official with the Ulster Teachers' Union, described the falling number of male teachers as a "worrying and sad statistic".

"There is no single reason for this but one aspect surely is the fact that teaching as a career no longer often enjoys the status that it once did," he said.

"A career in teaching should have the same status as one in medicine, for instance.

"We would like to see the teaching profession treated with as much respect as other professions, such as law and medicine.

"It is the very least that we need if we are to ensure a healthy future for us all."

Belfast Telegraph

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