I am aware of the decreasing numbers of males entering the teaching profession, and it is an issue that is of concern to me. I believe that it is important to attract more men into teaching for a number of reasons, not least of which is the positive role models that teachers provide in children's lives and the desirability of having both male and female role models in our schools.
I genuinely believe that teaching should be seen as an attractive profession for both men and women. Teaching is fulfilling work which makes a huge social contribution. With the increases in teachers' salaries under partnership agreements and benchmarking in recent years, it is also now a well-paid job.
This Government wants to attract and reward the best teachers. In addition to increasing teachers' salaries, we have also undertaken other initiatives to enhance the status of the profession. Not least of these is the establishment of the Teaching Council as a professional regulatory body.
I have also now received the report of the primary education committee, Males into Primary Teaching. The primary education committee was established to examine a range of issues in relation to males entering primary teaching and to make recommendations on short-term and long-term strategies to increase the numbers in this regard. The report draws on the professional insight of key experts in this area as well as drawing on a number of relevant research studies. The report's findings will be of significant benefit in assisting the development of future policy in this important area.
One of the key recommendations in the committee's report is that a co-ordinated promotion campaign, which would encourage boys as well as girls to enter primary teaching, should be undertaken. Officials in my Department are examining how such a promotion campaign can be run to maximum effect. All other recommendations contained in the report are also receiving active consideration