Department of Education Statistics have revealed that men make up only 20% of primary-level teachers in Ireland and Mary Immaculate College has launched a campaign to encourage more to enter the profession.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, the Education and Training Boards of Ireland General Secretary, Paddy Lavelle said: “The first challenge is to make it attractive.”
“The idea of making teaching attractive to boys in school is something that has to go on, right from the start as a career option for guidance counsellors, but also for teachers themselves,” he said.
“One of the big important things is for boys to recognise that teaching is a valid professional and a good pathway for them to take on.”
Mr Lavelle said one deterrent for young men entering the profession is “that most of the teachers they’ve had in primary school are female.”
“They don’t see themselves then in the teachers that have taught them and that’s something that we need to correct,” he said.
“It’s a universal problem – it’s not just in Ireland that this is happening.
“It is a very important part of how you make something attractive to boys or to anybody that they see themselves in the teachers.”
Mr Lavelle said this need for representation extends to different cultural backgrounds and races.
“It wouldn’t just be about boys it would be about making sure that you would recognise people teaching you who are from the same background as yourself,” he said.
“That’s a really important thing in Ireland today that people who are teaching in front of classrooms represent and look like the children that are teaching.”
Mr Lavelle said one of the factors that are deterring men from the profession is the high level of CAO points.
“Generally, women and girls outperform boys in the Leaving Cert for courses like that,” he said.
“Another block is that in primary teaching you have to have a high standard of Irish and that may be a problem for boys more than for girls.
“There are steps being taken to give access through other means than the CEO into teaching.
Mr Lavelle said The National Tertiary Office is building programmes that begin in post Leaving Cert or in further education.
“[That’s] training where you do two years or one year in one of those colleges, and then you can move on from there into the universities,” he said.
“If teaching was amenable like that, it might make it more attractive to boys.”
12 May 2023