22 November 2018

By Kevin Taggart - Deputy Headteacher at Jarrow Cross Primary School in South Shields, North East England

Traditionally primary schools have been seen as the domain of female teachers. Like in many other areas of society, this will take time to adjust to better reflect changes in gender stereotyping.  


Recent statistics show that the total number of teachers entering the profession is falling, yet there are still more than double the number of females compared to males in terms of full time teachers entering the practice in state funded schools. In primary schools specifically, there are just over six female teachers for every male teacher. (Source: School Workforce in England Census: November 2017).


Personally, I've worked with the occasional male student teacher, but the vast majority have been females.  I only came across male teachers when I attended secondary school. At primary school the only male staff member was the caretaker! Nowadays, it is more common and I think there is an important role for males in school - not only as 'a good male role model' but more importantly as effective and productive teachers who can inspire young learners. 


One of the reasons I wanted to go in to teaching was to try and be that inspiration in the classroom. It's easy to get lost in data, monitoring and marking but it's important to remember that the best memories children will have of lessons is when they did something new, different or unexpected. It's important that I remind myself of that. 


We are very pleased with the commitment of the Beanstalk volunteers and see them as an important part of the school's responsibility in meeting the needs of our children. They provide one-to-one support and we value the time they give to pupils. Sessions give pupils confidence to share their ideas in a relaxed yet focused environment. This therefore gives them greater confidence to participate and embrace the wider school curriculum when back with their classmates. 


Primary teaching is rewarding, challenging, exciting and often difficult. It is a job that requires commitment and patience where you need to leave your own troubles at the door and be ready to inspire children each day. I wouldn't change it for anything, but at the same time, anyone who was considering entering the profession needs to visit and volunteer in different settings to get a flavour of what it is like.


Schools are often looking for volunteers and as long as you are reliable and committed then it is a rewarding and fulfilling role - especially when you can see that you are making a difference and the children you are supporting are making progress. 


Kevin Taggart is Deputy Headteacher at Jarrow Cross Primary School in South Shields, a school which partners with Beanstalk. Find out more about becoming a partner school or a reading helper in a school.