by Anika Bourley and Kelly Eve - Times & Star - UK

Headteachers say the number of male teachers working in Cumbria’s primary schools is growing despite new Government figures which reveal men account for fewer than 30 per cent of staff in more than 200 schools.

According to new figures released by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) male teachers account for fewer than 30 per cent of all staff at 231 of the county’s 275 local authority schools.

Additional breakdowns reveal fewer than two in 10 teachers are male at 192 of the schools across the county and in 135 schools just one in 10 of the teachers are men.

Andrew Mason, headteacher at Stoneraise School at Durdar, is the vice-chairman of the Cumbrian Primary Heads Association and has been a teacher for 32 years.

He said: “The issue is nothing new but we have got more and more men coming in to teaching now, particularly at the infant stage, and that is where they are accepted as role models.

“There may have been parents who have been apprehensive about having a male teacher but their impact in the classroom has been tremendous.

“Boys and girls react differently and boys themselves need a different type of teaching strategy. Male teachers do act as role models for pupils and it shows that men can and do do things like teaching.”

He also added that a male role model in school can provide a positive influence to children who are affected by family breakdown.

Recent research revealed that parents want more men to become primary school teachers because they fear their children lack male role models.

Demand is even stronger among single mothers, who said their children had little contact with men in caring roles.

The study, published in January, found that one in six children living with a single mother spends less than two hours a week with a male role model.

Male teacher numbers in Cumbria benefit from close links with local training providers such as the Cumbria Primary Teacher Training unit in Workington and the University of Cumbria.

At Wreay village school, two of the four teaching staff are male.

There are also several high-profile headteachers who help boost the profile of male teachers. In Carlisle, Andy Cairns recently became one of the youngest heads in the county, taking over at Kingmoor Junior School at the age of 30.

Stephen Fraser, head at Dalston’s St Michael’s School, was named regional primary head in last year’s National Teaching Awards. He and Shaun Monaghan, head of Jericho School in Whitehaven, are National Leaders in Education.

David Grimshaw, the 36-year-old head of Inglewood Junior School in Harraby, Carlisle, has been a teacher for 12 years.

He said: “Teaching is traditionally seen as a nurturing role particularly in the younger age groups.

“I wanted to get to know the whole child across all areas rather than in just one, that’s what drew me to primary teaching.

“There is an idealistic philosophy that you can make a big impact and strike a cord with them which will help them in the future. But teaching is not easy. It takes a certain type of person to do it.”

Cumbria’s secondary schools fair better for ratios of male to female teachers. Only one has fewer than 30 per cent of men on its staff, according to the DCSF.