The number of men applying to Bath Spa University to be primary school teachers this year has risen dramatically.

The 66% increase in applications mirrors a national trend: figures announced by the Training and Development Agency for Schools ( TDA ) show a 52% rise in the number of men applying to primary teacher education programmes in England.

The rise is attributed largely to the economic recession, with redundancies and unemployment making teaching an increasingly attractive option.

Professor Stephen Ward, Dean of Education of Bath Spa University, says that the increase in male applicants is a welcome development. For many years primary teaching has been a predominantly female profession, and its very encouraging that men are also recognising the challenges and benefits of this career path. Primary school children will certainly benefit from a better gender balance in our schools.

Andrew Venn is a current trainee on Bath Spas Primary teaching programme. Before starting on his course he had a twenty year university career, and gave up the salary of an Associate Dean to pursue a vocation in primary education. Andrew says that he has never regretted the change in direction: I believe its the most important time in a childs life when they obtain the values that will last them a lifetime.

Another trainee at Bath Spa, Edward Powe, joined the primary education programme straight from his first degree. The role of male teachers as models for young boys is becoming increasingly crucial. I feel that this is an excellent career path for me.