Keith Morrow, headmaster of The Elms Junior School and Nursery, insists it has never been more important that “children see men in positive, reaffirming and nurturing roles” after the national spotlight fell on declining numbers of male teachers.
Writing in his latest school blog, Keith underlined the importance of children having positive male stereotypes from a young age and challenges the apparent discomfort with men in ‘caring’ roles in the UK.
His comments come at the same time as a report in the Daily Telegraph asked ‘How can we get more men to become teachers?’
Last year government statistics revealed the number of male teachers working in Britain had fallen for the fifth time in as many years. Teaching in the UK is female-dominated, particularly in primary schools where nationally, women outnumber men four to one. Keith argues this is not a healthy balance for a child’s overall development.
He said: “In Britain I think we’re still coming to terms with the notion of men in ‘caring’ roles. Children need good teachers first and foremost. But men and women are different, and bring differing approaches to the classroom and school community.
“Schools, together with the home, are where young minds grow and develop, and children start forming views about the world in which they live. Children need positive stereotypes and to understand that caring for and educating children is as much part of a man’s role in society as a woman’s.
“With divorce rates rising, it’s never been more important that children see men in positive, reaffirming and nurturing roles.”
Keith recalls his own experience applying for infant school positions after finishing his teacher training, and the difficulties he faced in landing a job. It is this experience that shapes his approach to teacher recruitment today, with nine males currently on The Elms staff, including himself, plus a male Teaching Assistant working with infants and a male infant teacher.
He added: “I remember being given various reasons why I was supposedly unsuitable. It was as if there was something deeply wrong with men wanting to work with the brightest and most enquiring minds in education – young children.
“I eventually abandoned that path and got a job as a junior teacher. When I’d ‘proved’ myself and was accepted by parents, the Head ‘risked’ moving me to teach the infants. This elicited a mixed reaction from parents, including pity that I’d been ‘demoted’!
‘I’m not convinced these attitudes have changed since the early ‘90s, which is why I try to ensure, whilst I always appoint the best teacher for a role, I balance male and female teachers throughout the school. Parents comment positively on this.’