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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 June 2006, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
Pupils 'don't mind' teacher's sex
children and head teacher in playground
Children know a good teacher when they see one
Most young boys and girls do not care whether they are taught by a man or a woman, a study has indicated.

Researchers asked more than 300 children aged seven and eight whether their teacher's gender mattered. Most said teaching quality was the key.

Some people have suggested it is important boys have male "role models".

A scarcity of male teachers in primary schools has led to recruitment drives to get more male staff, in a bid to make schools more representative.

The study was done in collaboration with London Metropolitan and Newcastle universities.

The children interviewed were in the north-east and south-east of England.

The researchers also observed them in their classrooms with their teachers - 25 male and 26 female.

Authority

Professor Christine Skelton, who led the project, said: "What we found particularly interesting was that boys were just as likely to say they wanted to be like their women teachers as their male teachers and vice versa for the girls."

Describing why they wanted to be like their teachers, boys said they wanted to have their authority or knowledge.

Girls generally wanted to copy the way their teachers behaved - such as being kind to others.

Last week another academic, Tony Sewell, complained that lessons had become too "feminised" and called for more nurturing of traditional "male" traits, such as competitiveness and leadership.

He also said there should be extra efforts to recruit male teachers.

But Prof Skelton said: "It must be very discouraging for female primary teachers to know they were considered to be inadequate when it came to teaching boys and insulting for male teachers to be judged on the basis of their masculinity - and the 'right kind' of masculinity at that."

She said recruitment strategies could focus on attracting the best teachers.

Representative

The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) launched a renewed drive last October to attract more male primary teachers.

It said its research suggested 83% of parents would like to see more men in primary schools, where just 15.7% of the teachers in England were male.

The TDA said in response to the latest study that its aim was to ensure the teaching population was more representative of the population as a whole.

"It is why we also have campaigns to attract more disabled and minority ethnic people into the profession," a spokesman said.


SEE ALSO
Schools 'too feminine for boys'
13 Jun 06 |  Education
Underachieving boys to get help
06 Oct 05 |  Education
Male teachers 'do not help boys'
09 Sep 05 |  Education
Call for male primary teachers
13 Oct 05 |  Education

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