The number of male teachers in Queensland schools has fallen to “alarming” levels, sparking a probe into the decline.
Poor pay rates and perception of teaching careers has been blamed for the slide, with registered male teachers making up barely 16 per cent of educators in state primary school this year.
The Queensland College of Teachers has proposed an investigation into the decline.
The percentage of male teachers in secondary state schools has also dropped, from 41.07 per cent to 35.13 per cent over the past decade, while in non-state high schools, a similar drop of 5.79 per cent was experienced over 10 years. QCT acting director Drew Braban said the trend was “alarming”.
“Information from the research will help inform policy development, relevant stakeholder consultations and activities the QCT should pursue to address concerning issues,” he said.
About 43 per cent of male teachers registered in Queensland are over 50, flagging fears their retirement will cause a further slump in male teacher numbers.
Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates said the way the profession was treated and the level of respect it received meant men potentially might dismiss teaching. But he said it was important to acknowledge “a good teacher is a good teacher”.
“I understand that having a male role model is an important thing for children … we want to emphasise that the most important thing is that a teacher is the best teacher they can be.”
For 24-year-old David Rawson, who grew up teaching his toy dinosaurs and robots, being a teacher was never in question. He teaches at St Ursula’s College, Toowoomba, and is a finalist in the Queensland College of Teacher’s Awards.
“There’s that old mantra, ‘those who can’t do, teach’ — but I think we need to revalue the profession and make it clear it’s challenging and fulfilling,” he said.
Queensland Catholic Education Commission director Mike Byrne said 15.6 per cent of Catholic primary school teachers were men, with the ratio increasing to about 40.5 per cent in high schools.
“We believe that a greater balance is important to provide gender role modelling in schools,” he said.
Queensland P&C president Kevan Goodworth said students needed role models of both sexes for learning development.
He said the teaching profession was not always considered to be a “lucrative” career for young men.
A Department of Education spokesman said the gender imbalance was “not likely to change in the short term, as data gathered from higher education providers suggests current patterns are continuing”.
The department would work “to identify effective teacher attraction and retention strategies”.