INTO conference: The delegates’ views
It would be nice to have more male teachers but low salaries and a lack of prospects put them off
Patricia McCracken, St David’s NS, Naas, and her mother Eibhlin, Cloontagh NS, Co Donegal, pictured at the INTO Conference in Kilkenny. Photograph: Pat Moore
Teachers’ salaries and career prospects put young men off the profession, according to Brian Dillon of Castleconnell, Co Limerick.
“An 18-year-old man is looking for something better paid, he has a choice of careers, he is not inclined towards teaching” said Mr Dillon. “What I have seen is that sometimes a man will come back to the profession at the age of 25 or so, when they have qualified at something else”.
He said he believed the profession would benefit from more men. “It is nice to have a balance, but at the moment we are just not attracting young men.”
Fellow teacher Patrick O’Connell of Adare, Co Limerick agreed. “It is about career opportunities” he said, and instanced the ban on promotional opportunities for primary teachers which has been in place since 2008.
“There are some schools with no male teachers, and I am not saying that they are not very good schools, but a gender balance has to be good”, he said.
School principal Joan Sweeney of Naas, Co Kildare said there had not been a permanent male teacher in her school in her memory - when an occasional substitute male teacher came in, it caused a great buzz.
She agreed the disincentives to men becoming teachers were pay and career opportunities. Teaching, she said, was seen as a “noble” profession, not necessarily a lucrative one.”
Her colleague at St David’s National School, Naas, Patricia McCracken, said: “I think it would be good for some boys to have a male role model”.
She said there was “a perception that men aren’t comfortable around small children”, but added: “I know some absolutely fabulous and very suitable male teachers, I don’t think you can generalise”.
Ms McCracken’s mother Eibhlin McCracken, also a delegate at the conference and a teacher in Clonmany, Co Donegal, said teaching was traditionally seen as a female area. She said it was “assumed” when a child was brought into junior infants that the teacher would be a woman. There were more men at other levels.