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Percentage of Northern Ireland male teachers drops again

Under 30% of teaching workforce in NI are men


Head teacher Denise Macfarlane

Head teacher Denise Macfarlane

P7 teacher Christopher Turkington

P7 teacher Christopher Turkington


Head teacher Denise Macfarlane

The proportion of male teachers in Northern Ireland has declined for the fifth year in a row, it has been revealed.

The Department of Education's newly-published Teacher Workforce statistics for 2017/18 show that men make up 29.8% of the 19,867 teachers here - despite 89 more employees on the payroll.

The number of men entering the profession has been falling since 2014, but proportionately the numbers have been in decline since the previous year.

In 2013, men made up nearly 31% of the teaching workforce, but today there are 4,566 men teaching, compared to 15,301 women.

The data also shows that the long-term trend of a total absence of men teaching nursery school pupils continues - all 211 pre-primary teachers are female. In primary schools the proportion of male teachers is only 18.5%.

The principal of Corran Integrated Primary School and Nursery, Denise Macfarlane, said the under representation of males in the profession is a reflection of society's values.

"There are no barriers stopping men from teaching young children in primary or nursery school," she said.

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"This is obviously a result of society viewing nurturing roles as being better suited to women."

Mrs Macfarlane, who began teaching at the Larne school in 1995 before being appointed principal in 2005, said her school has always being fortunate when it comes to striking a healthy male to female balance - men currently account for half of the teaching staff there.

"It's just a happy coincidence," she said.

The head teacher said children across Northern Ireland are missing out on a range of positive role models as a result of fewer males in schools.

"Especially because a lot of children today grow up without that healthy balance in the home," she said. "It's so important, especially for young boys - it helps them understand that education is important," she added

More male teachers are present in secondary schools (40%) with grammar schools closer to achieving the perfect balance (49%).

Less than a quarter (24.1%) of special school teachers are male.

West Winds Primary School teacher Christopher Turkington (31), who has been educating young people for six years, believes male stereotypes are a significant part of the problem.

"I think people view primary school teaching as a woman's job, that perception is particularly true from nursery school to P5," he said. "In my experience, you will be met with raised eyebrows if you express an interest in teaching lower classes."

The P7 teacher from Newtownards, who has never taught below P5, said that in addition to the existing "stigma" men tend to get typecast in schools.

"As a man you're expected to do sport, be strict and teach at upper Key Stage level - but I wouldn't be put off." Mr Turkington, who was attracted to the profession as a result of his own experience of primary school, said it's a very different experience being on the other side of the fence.

"I'm currently the only male in my school, apart from the headmaster."

The Liverpool Hope University graduate also believes that the competition for places and the amount of work involved can deter men.

The newly published Teacher Vacancies, Sickness Absence and Substitution stats show that there were fewer vacancies in 2017 and that the average number of sick days has fallen slightly to 9.3.

The amount of retired teachers working as subs also fell to 6,305 days which represents a sharp drop of 14.4% since 2008/9.

Retirees only accounted for 1.3% of the total days worked.

Substitution expenditure has fallen by £4.6m to £69m.

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