by Anika Bourley Parliamentary Correspondent - United Kingdom

More than one third of primary schools across Cumbria have no male teachers.

There are 275 local authority primary schools across the county, but, according to figures released by the Department for Education, there are 99 primary schools across Cumbria with only female teachers.

The problem is mirrored across the country despite attempts by the previous Government to increase numbers.

The number of men working as school teachers has reached a five-year low leading to concerns about a lack of positive male role models.

A Cumbria County Council spokesman said: “We continue to support a range of strategies to support recruitment and succession planning.

“In Cumbria we reflect national trends of gender imbalance in teacher recruitment. The county has a lot of rural primary schools. Rural schools tend to employ a higher proportion of part-time teachers. Part-time jobs traditionally attract more women than men. Recruitment drives are based on that knowledge of gender imbalance.”

The Training and Development Agency for Schools claims the number of men applying to be teachers has soared since the recession began.

Rising joblessness has made the prospect of working in primary schools more attractive and the number of men applying to train has increased by more than 50 per cent.

According to figures, the number of men wanting to train for primary teaching has risen 52 per cent in the last year, from 3,125 to 4,746.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We also want to take urgent action to attract more great teachers into the classroom. We want to further enhance the prestige and esteem of the teaching profession and further improve teacher training and continuous professional development.

“The generation of teachers currently in our schools is the best ever, but given the pace of international improvement we must always be striving to do better.

“That is why we will write off the student loan payments of science and maths graduates who go into teaching. That is why we will reform teacher recruitment to ensure there is a relentless focus on tempting the best into this, most rewarding, of careers.

“And that is why we will reform teacher training to shift trainee teachers out of college and into the classroom.”