Page last updated at 06:12 GMT, Wednesday, 8 April 2009 07:12 UK

Primary schools 'need more men'

Male primary school teacher
Almost a third of NI primary school teachers have no male teachers

Almost a third of primary schools in Northern Ireland do not have any male teachers, Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has revealed.

Out of 884 primary schools, 255 or 29% did not have any men as teaching staff.

Ulster Unionist assembly member Tom Elliott obtained the figures, which he said were "deeply disturbing".

"Like the vast majority of people within society, I recognise the importance of having both positive male and female role models," he said.

Mr Elliott, who is a member of the Stormont Education Committee, said he was opposed to quotas or any positive discrimination, but called for the Department of Education to actively encourage more men to consider primary school teaching.

"Methods of doing this could include focused advertising campaigns, public events and working towards the eradication of unnecessary bureaucracy," he said.

"However, we also must strive for a change of attitude within wider society.

"It must be acknowledged that men who become primary school teachers play a valuable role within our communities and can, with their female counterparts, provide children with a wonderful start in life."

The figures showed that out of 4,124 teachers in state-run schools, 12.7%, or 522, were male.

In Catholic schools, out of a total of 3,775 teachers, 713, or 18.9%, were male.



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