New Zealand Herald - Auckland, New Zealand

A proposed men-only teacher training facility in Nelson could avoid discrimination rules if it proved boys had been disadvantaged in the past, the Human Rights Commission says.

The principal of prestigious boy’s school Nelson College is so worried about the male teacher shortage he has suggested starting an in-house teacher training facility, the Press newspaper reported today.

Gary O’Shea suggested the college would take a small number of graduates for a one-year training course with a view to employing them at the school once qualified.

Mr O’Shea was keen to take on men but said he would not completely rule out women.

The Human Rights Commission said it was possible the college could be limited only to men if it proved boys had been disadvantaged in the past.

A spokesman said there were provisions in the Human Rights Act and the New Zealand Bill of Rights for affirmative action to redress the balance for disadvantaged groups.

Mr O’Shea did not dispute the quality of female teachers but said boys, particularly at single-sex schools, needed a good balance and male role models outside their family circle.

Forty of the school’s 74 teachers were men.

New Zealand Principals’ Federation president Judy Hanna said it was important to have quality teachers of both sexes.

In Christchurch, Shirley Boys’ High School principal John Laurenson said about 75 per cent of his teachers were male but this was not intentional.

According to Education Ministry figures there were 12,175 male and 27,361 female permanent teachers in New Zealand schools at April 2006.