by Jo Moir - Wairarapa Times Age

Kohanga reo are a step ahead of a national shortage of male early childcare teachers, though in Wairarapa the Kura Kaupapa is leading the way.

A national story run by the New Zealand Herald last week quoted Jan Peeters, co-ordinator of the Resource and Training Centre for Child Care at Belgium’s University of Ghent, saying: “New Zealand could eventually become a world leader in male participation in early education.”

Kohanga reo has achieved 30 per cent of its teachers being male, which is an astonishing level of men working at childcare centres, he said.

Te Kura Kaupapa o Wairarapa primary has five teaching staff, three of which are male and acting principal Sheridan McKinley said she isn’t sure what is drawing them.

“Generally males don’t tend to go into teaching because, unless they want to climb the ladder to the principal’s job, there isn’t a lot of money in teaching.”

Males can also be discouraged from teaching because of the issues surrounding them being put in compromising positions with children, she said.

“My partner, who used to teach, often spoke of the stupidity of not just being able to do your job as a teacher and always having to be aware of where you are and who is with you at all times.”

She said male teachers do talk about being conscious of the situations they can be put in with children and being left alone with them, “and they do make a point of being careful”.

Te Kura Kaupapa o Wairarapa primary teacher Paul Andersen said he studied in the bilingual class at teachers college and “there was a decent amount of males that came through”.

“It’s a very positive environment to teach in here and there probably is a need for male teachers in other primary schools, but at the same time I know of male teachers that probably under-perform, so there’s two sides to it.”

Mr Andersen said there is an extra need to be cautious and careful as a male teacher in primary schools, “which is something that the whole staff has discussed and everybody knows what is and isn’t appropriate”.

“You have to be careful not to be by yourself with the kids or be seen to be in a position that may be misjudged.”

Being involved with teaching and looking after kids at children’s camps led Mr Andersen to primary school teaching, he said.