Why we need more male primary teachers

By Greg Whitby, 30 August 2017

Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta

In Australia, fewer and fewer males are pursuing careers as primary school teachers. In 2016, just over 18 percent of primary school teachers were male. While there have been campaigns to recruit more males to the profession, they haven’t made a significant difference to the number of males entering the profession.

We need the best primary school teachers in all classrooms, regardless of whether they are male or female. Having said that, having good male teachers in primary school can make a positive difference to young lives. The sad reality is that too many children witness physical or psychological violence at home, and schools can be a place to see appropriate male behaviours on a regular basis.

St Michael’s Primary, Blacktown South.

We know that good teachers make a difference to the lives of young people. That is not surprising given that teachers are present in the lives of young people six or seven hours a day, five days a week. The decline in the number of male primary teachers in schools means that some boys may not be seeing that males can be nurturing, supportive and relational. It is also worth remembering that strong male role models are just as important for girls as they are for boys.

Students need to see how male teachers successfully manage themselves in classrooms, with colleagues and parents, on the sporting field and in the playground. Boys will often look to other males to mimic how to behave and how to form healthy relationships, particularly with females. Boys also need to see that teaching is a rewarding and valid career path by seeing good male primary teachers in action.

While there are many perceived and practical challenges that dissuade men from becoming or remaining a primary teacher, young people benefit from having positive role models in schools from all backgrounds. After all, diversity in schools must be the norm.

Greg Whitby

Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta

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