A growing number of Australian primary schools are staffed entirely by females as the number of male teachers has dropped to one in five.
“Our children are missing out on what is a diverse teaching experience … some children don’t experience a male teacher until upper primary school,” Early Childhood Education Lecturer at the University of South Australia, Mr Mills-Bayne told the ABC. “Providing that diversity in young children’s experiences allows them to see complex relationships in classrooms and beyond.”
The findings of a report commissioned by the Education Department in 2009 titled ‘Teacher Supply and Demand in South Australia — Beyond 2010,’ has recommended specific attention be given to boost the the number of male graduates.
Despite this, there are yet to be any strategies or campaigns in South Australia aimed at encouraging more men into teaching.
Sam Bradley from the Department of Education and Child Development said the priority was given to employing high quality teachers overall.
“The Department for Education and Child Development is an equal opportunity employer with an open selection recruitment policy,” she told the ABC in a recent interview. “This means the teaching positions advertised are open to registered male and female teachers through a merit selection process and the panel at the school determines the most suitable applicant for the position.”
The University of South Australia itself only has 4 per cent male students currently studying early childhood education, with less than 10 male students graduating from the course each year. The number is slightly higher for primary teaching, with 17 per cent of students currently enrolled being male.
For the past four years, early childhood education lecturer Mr Mills-Bayne has been trying to increase the number of males in the degree through a support program he devised, entitled, ‘The MENtor program.’
“What can happen in studying and teaching is that it can become a very isolating experience for men,” he said. “The MENtor program allows connections between men who have been through the program and men who are out there teaching who can perhaps provide that unique experience of being a male teaching in an early childhood or primary setting.”
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