Nearly one in three primary schools in England do not have a male classroom teacher, a study suggests.

The proportion of secondary school teachers who are male remains at a record low (35%), according to a Warwick Business School report.

Researchers said boys from poorer backgrounds would benefit from having a male teacher in school but they are less likely to have one.

Raising teachers’ pay, reducing working hours and improving school leadership could help boost recruitment and retention, the report said.

The study analysed the latest data from the annual School Workforce Census to identify trends in gender diversity among teachers in state schools in England since 2010.

It found that nearly a quarter (24.3%) of all state schools in England have no male classroom teachers.

In two local authorities, Rutland in the East Midlands and Northumberland in the North East, at least half of the primary schools do not have a male classroom teacher.

The study found that more than two in five (41.9%) of the primary schools placed in special measures by Ofsted had no male classroom teachers.

The report said: “This could be due to selection – male teachers are in relatively high demand and therefore might be less likely to sort into the lowest achieving school.

“Alternately, having no gender diversity in the classroom might negatively impact the functioning of a school.”

Dr Joshua Fullard, assistant professor of behavioural science at Warwick Business School, said: “Worryingly, the decline in the number of male classroom teachers is getting worse.

“This has an impact on the education that children receive. There is a large body of research that shows students benefit from being educated by a teacher with certain similarities to them.

“Boys from less affluent backgrounds are already the lowest achievers in school. They are the students who would benefit most from a male teacher, but they are less and less likely to have one.

“It’s not just boys who are losing out. Having no gender diversity could negatively affect how a school functions, as schools in special measures are less like to have a male classroom teacher.”

he report called for teachers’ pay to be raised by more than 10% and for a merit-based reduction in tuition fees for university-led teacher training to be introduced.

Dr Fullard said: “Men are more likely to consider finances when deciding to go into, or leave, a profession. This explains why the persistent decline in teachers’ pay has affected male teacher numbers more than their female counterparts.”

James Bowen, assistant general secretary at school leaders’ union the NAHT, said: “It’s important for all children and young people to experience a diverse range of positive role models.

“The impact of a diverse school workforce, at all levels in education, is well recognised, including by the Department for Education.

“It can help children and young people, especially those from deprived backgrounds, to visualise positive futures and fulfil their potential.”

Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “Having a diverse workforce is a huge asset to a school, but currently many are struggling simply to put a teacher at the front of every classroom.

“A great deal of work needs to be done to make teaching a more attractive career to men and women alike. This includes reversing the real terms pay cuts that teachers have experienced since 2010, reducing unmanageable workloads and ensuring all schools are properly funded.

“Until these issues are addressed then the profession will continue to lose men and women, whether they are new graduates or experienced teachers, to jobs that are offering more competitive pay and better conditions of service.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We want teaching to be an inclusive profession, with equal opportunity for all, regardless of gender, to develop and progress in their careers.

“Since 2010, there has been an increase of over 7,000 male teachers in state-funded nursery and primary schools.

“We want to continue bringing great people into teaching and have introduced bursaries worth up to £27,000 tax-free and scholarships worth up to £29,000 tax-free, to attract talented trainees in subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry and computing.”

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By Eleanor Busby, PA Education Correspondent