By Daniel Nielson - The Nelson Mail - New Zealand

Nelson College headmaster Gary O’Shea is so concerned about the lack of quality male teachers he is looking at establishing an in-school teacher training college.

He says it’s getting harder to find good male teachers because the profession is becoming so “feminised”.

His idea, which is yet to go before the board of trustees, would involve taking on just a few university graduates each year to train from scratch as teachers. All the training would be done on site.

While the training couldn’t be made exclusively for men as “that wouldn’t be allowed”, the school was wanting to “hand-pick” and train its own male teachers, Mr O’Shea said.

Four new first-year teachers employed at the college this year are all female. The college received three times more applications from females than males for junior teaching positions and female teaching graduates were generally more focused and committed than their male counterparts, Mr O’Shea said.

“The quality of first-year male teachers I’m employing is very high. There’s just not enough of them.”

Given the choice, Mr O’Shea would prefer to employ male teachers.

“Everything being equal, I would take the male over the female. Any boys’ school would do that.”

He said 40 of the school’s 74 teachers were male, which was unusually low for a boys’ school. Auckland Grammar School, for example, had less than 10 percent female teachers. A normal proportion of male teachers at a boys’ school was about 70 percent, Mr O’Shea said.

He said boys needed male mentors outside of their family but many arrived at high school never having had a male teacher.

Mr O’Shea was confident Nelson College had the facilities and expertise to function as a registered training college, which could run with a one-year training period with an allowance, accommodation and meals provided, followed by two years of initial employment.

Mr O’Shea was expecting the unions, parents, the training colleges and the Ministry of Education to resist the idea.

Associate dean of secondary teacher education at Canterbury University’s Christchurch College of Education, Neil Lancaster, said 40 percent (14 weeks) of the College of Education’s graduate teaching diploma was based on classroom teaching.

He doubted that Nelson College would be able to train teachers in education theory, a vital part of a teacher’s training.

Ministry spokesman Vince Cholewa said the Government had frozen funding of any new teacher education providers in 2000 to ensure consistency in the quality of teacher training.

If the college wanted to start training teachers, it would probably have to be funded privately, he said.

The ministry did not promote teaching as a career to men specifically. Mr Cholewa said the ministry simply tried to get people, regardless of gender, into teaching.

Nayland College principal Charles Newton agreed that there weren’t enough male teachers being trained and female graduates were generally of a higher standard than the men.

Of the 46 first-year teachers employed at Nayland in the last 10 years, only 14 were men, Mr Newton said.

He was concerned the ministry wasn’t doing more to encourage men into teaching.

But Post Primary Teachers’ Association president Debbie Te Whaiti said there was no robust evidence to support the idea that male teachers were better for male students.