What was once a female-dominated profession is becoming increasingly gender-netural, and more men than ever before are applying for post-graduate certificates of education (PGCE) in the field.

The university has launched Men in Primary, a scheme offering support for male students through a mentoring programme and a series of workshops.

Two male primary school teachers have been enlisted as mentors, offering help and advice on how to tackle sensitive situations, and the workshops will include topics such as how to deal with parents in schools with few male teachers and how to present oneself as a professional in the workplace.

Further support will come from Nick Givens and Sue Jones, specialists in gender issues in education.

Student Ross Hasler, 30, has nearly finished his PGCE at Exeter and will soon be teaching at Honiton Primary School. He said: “I went into teaching at primary school level because I wanted to do something rewarding and be proud of what I do every day.

“Before I decided to go into it I went on a Men in Primary course in London and that really encouraged me. Now Exeter has set up the course and it is a very good idea. We had a meeting with a teacher from a local primary school, talked about issues, and all the guys really liked it.

“The workshops are interesting and helpful and support learning. I can definitely recommend them.”

Ross said teaching in primary school has been a positive experience and stresses that good teaching has nothing to do with gender.

“It is important for children to have female and male role models, but it is also important to emphasise that there are different teaching styles regardless of gender, and I have learned from a variety of different approaches,” he said.

“Being a male primary school teacher has never been an issue for me and I think the main message is to encourage men to come into it. There are a lot of great people in teaching.”