By Reon Suddaby - Waikato Times - New Zealand

The principals of two Hamilton boys’ schools are happy with their male staff numbers, and will not consider in-house training to encourage more men into the profession.

Nelson College principal Gary O’Shea is so worried by the shortage of male teachers he has suggested an in-school teacher-training facility at the college.

It would give a small number of graduates a one-year training course, with a view to Nelson College employing them once they qualified, he said.

Although Mr O’Shea was keen to take on men, he would not rule out women.

Hamilton Boys’ High School headmaster Susan Hassall said 72 per cent of her staff were men.

“There is no need for us to set up an alternative training facility, as we are well served already . . . ,” she said. “If staffing became an issue, I would, in all probability, liaise more closely with one of the present providers.”

Ray Scott, principal of St John’s College, said his school had no problems attracting male staff.

“We’re pretty well off at the moment, but it’s always difficult to get good teachers full-stop,” he said.

He could not see St John’s College adopting Nelson College’s idea.

“We’re pretty well served by the university’s education centre and the people that come through there.”

Mr Scott said it was important for young men to have male role models.

Bev Cooper, co-ordinator of the secondary school programme at Waikato University’s school of education, said Nelson College’s plan was “a bit of sensationalism”, and getting male teachers was more of a problem for primary schools.

She said there were high-quality teacher education programmes right across New Zealand, and she doubted that Mr O’Shea’s proposal would work.

The Human Rights Commission said the Nelson College course could be limited to men only if it proved boys had been disadvantaged by a lack of male teachers.

Mr O’Shea said while he did not dispute the quality of female teachers, boys, particularly those at single-sex schools, needed a good balance.

“Research shows that adolescent boys need male role models outside their family circle,” he said.

“Having a college attached to us would mean we could develop the teachers and we would know what we were taking on.”

Education Ministry figures show there were 12,175 male and 27,361 female permanent teachers in state and state-integrated schools in New Zealand at April 2006.

Waikato Times, New Zealand