Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Questions (414)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

555 Mr. Ó Fearghail asked the Minister for Education and Science if she intends to undertake an initiative to encourage the entry of more males into the primary teaching profession. [25458/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

In October 2003 a primary education committee was established in my Department to examine how more males can be encouraged to enter the primary teaching profession, with particular reference to the report of Dr. Sheelagh Drudy entitled Gender Differences in the Pattern of Admission to the Colleges of Education.

The committee has taken a multi-stranded approach in addressing this question: presentations have been made to the committee by a number of experts in the field; the INTO report on Gender Imbalance in Primary Teaching, published in Easter 2004, has been examined; research is being carried out for the committee involving male primary teachers who have qualified in the past ten years to seek their views on this question. The views of a number of female teachers are also being sought; a number of focus groups have been organised, including representatives of single sex boys schools and representatives of Church of Ireland schools; the colleges of education have sought the views of current male students in their colleges using a questionnaire and also by organising focus group meetings; and a conference was held in Maynooth on14 October 2004 to seek the views of a wideraudience.

I share the generally expressed concerned about the falling numbers of males entering primary teaching. This is a phenomenon which has emerged in many developed countries. I await, therefore, with interest the report of the committee, which is due early in 2005 and which will contain recommendations on both short term and long term strategies and initiatives most appropriate to address this issue. When I have evaluated these findings I will decide on what specific action to take to encourage the entry of more males into the primary teaching profession.