Exodus of male teachers fuelled by ‘drop in proportion of white men in class’

The proportion of male teachers in secondary schools in England has fallen steeply over the last decade – and now just over a third of the workforce are men, a report has found.

The decline of male teachers has been fuelled by a significant fall in the proportion of white male teachers in schools, according to an analysis by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) think tank.

Despite the workforce becoming more female-dominated, the proportion of black and minority ethnic (BME) male teachers has risen to 17% – which, for the first time, is broadly representative of the wider population (16%).

Since 2010, the number of BME male teachers has increased in both primary schools (by 114%) and secondary schools (by 34%).

Meanwhile, the number of white men in secondary schools has fallen by more than 12,800 since 2010 – a fall of 17%, the analysis has found.

The report says both trends may have implications for pupil outcomes as there is evidence that pupils have higher learning outcomes when they have “a teacher like me” in the classroom.

The proportion of men teaching in secondary schools has fallen year-on-year since 2010, hitting its lowest level last year when 35.5% of teachers were male, the analysis shows.

But figures in primary schools have stagnated over the last five years to 14.1%.

The decline of male teachers has occurred in every region in England, except for Inner London.

Men are least likely to go into teaching in the North East, where across all schools, just one in four (24.4%) teachers are male, according to the report.

It suggests that the decline of men in the profession is likely to be caused by the public sector pay freeze over the last decade.

Males are also more likely to apply to teaching at a later round, meaning they are less likely to secure a place, the analysis has found.

The think tank says the Government is likely to need to recruit more men in shortage subjects, like maths and physics, to meet recruitment targets, and it should continue to offer top-up payments to help recruit and retain maths and physics teachers in the most disadvantaged areas.

Joshua Fullard, author and senior researcher at the EPI, said: “While the Covid-19 recession has boosted teacher applications, this has had no effect on the gender diversity of the school workforce, which is still heavily dominated by women.

“Evidence suggests that when a teacher matches the background of their pupils, this can help to improve pupil outcomes.

“It’s therefore encouraging that despite the overall decline in males, we have seen a rise in the proportion of BME male teachers, which now corresponds with the population as a whole.”

A Department for Education (DfE) spokeswoman said: “We are working to increase the diversity of the teaching workforce, and have improved pathways into the profession with the aim of a diverse workforce that supports the progression and retention of all teachers, regardless of gender.”

She added: “We are increasing teacher pay so that we are one step closer to a £30,000 starting salary for teachers by 2022. We moved closer to that this year by introducing the biggest pay rise since 2005 with above-inflation pay rises to the pay ranges for every single teacher in the country.”

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