Male teacher numbers falling over abuse and pay concerns

September 22, 2011

FEAR of being accused of child sex crimes and higher pay in non-government schools are being blamed for a 4 per cent fall in the number of men teaching in NSW public schools.

While the number of male teachers in private schools has risen 20 per cent, government schools are suffering a lack of men.The “alarming” figures contained in a Social Trends report released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics were damned by the NSW Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations.

The report found that since 2000, the number of men teaching in government schools had fallen from about 50,000 to less than 48,000. Non-government schools, including independent and Catholic schools, enjoyed a rise from less than 24,000 to more than 29,000.

“The lack of male teachers tends to be in the primary sector, and our concern is that it’s not an accurate reflection of society,” federation president Helen Walton said.

“We have a primarily female system introduced to children at early age, and for many students their first contact with male teachers is at high schools.”

Ms Walton said that attracting men to primary teaching was very difficult. She cited a fear among would-be teachers of being branded a child sex offender as one of the main hurdles.

“There have been concerns about allegations made against male teachers which have made them wary of having anything to do with young primary children,” Ms Walton said.

“Our other concern is that in single-parent families, the parent in the home tends to be the mother so some boys miss out on that vital male contact.

“It’s good to have male role models in schools.”

Association of Independent Schools executive director Geoff Newcombe said private schools were able to attract men with higher salaries.

“An obvious explanation is that there are many boys’ schools in the independent sector, and male teachers are often more comfortable in this environment.

“There also may be an attraction to higher salaries in the independent schools which is particularly important if a male teacher is the sole income-earner in a household,” Dr Newcombe said.


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