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More and more men signing up to be a teacher

MORE men are returning to teaching, a major national research project will report.

The face of Irish teaching is set to change in a move to greater diversification of those charged with controlling classrooms.

Initial results from a major national research project indicate that the days of a profession dominated by females from the upper socio-economic group may well be numbered.


Funded by the Irish Research Council, the wide-ranging study of those choosing to enter the teaching profession is underway at NUI Galway and the provisional results have been outlined to education experts at a seminar in Galway at the weekend.

While schools across the country now have student populations from many backgrounds and cultures, the teaching population has remained largely unchanged, Dr Elaine Keane of the NUIG School of Education told the seminar.

But provisional findings from the NUIG project to date indicate an increase in males entering initial teacher education.

While the last 10 years had seen a significant increase in those over 25 entering the profession, recent findings show an increase in the numbers of younger applicants.

The predominant position of student teachers from the upper socio-economic group is now being challenged by an increase in the number of applicants for teacher courses from semi-skilled family backgrounds.

And the traditionally strong representation of entrants from a farming background has dropped significantly from 20pc in 2006 to just 13pc in recent times.

Dr Keane pointed out that while 95pc of entrants to the teaching profession remained Irish and white, society in general had diversified to a much greater degree in recent years.

"White, Irish entrants to teaching are considerably over-represented in terms of the general population at a time when the Higher Education Authority are pointing to the need for diversity in the teaching population", she said.


"While research and policy documents emphasise the necessity of diversifying the teaching population, we are lacking data adequately describing our national context in relation to diversity in initial teacher education," Dr Keane added.

"The gathering of comprehensive data on those applying to enter, and entering, initial teacher education is crucial in informing future directions in policy and research on teacher diversity in Ireland."

The Diversity in Initial Teacher Education (DITE) in Ireland research project is being carried out by Dr Keane with colleagues Dr Manuela Heinz and Dr Conor Foley of the School of Education at NUI Galway.