Insights from Quadrant

Blackboard blackball

The Daily Telegraph today reports (paywalled) on the shrinking ranks of male teachers:

The number of male teachers in NSW public schools has plummeted to an alarming new low from which experts fear it may never recover.

The situation has got so dire the NSW Department of Education will establish a “male teacher employee network” within schools and conduct research into the barriers and challenges male teachers face in their job.

That “research” has already been done by Quadrant contributor Christopher Heathcote, who wrote in our May, 2018, edition of his unsuccessful two-year quest in Victoria to secure the position of a secondary school english teacher. Given Christopher’s skills as a writer, his command of nuts-and-bolts punctuation and the like, plus a keen intelligence, you might think any school worth its salt would snap him up in a second. Such was not the case. Frustrated and baffled, he began tracking appointments, especially at those schools where his applications had been rejected without explanation. He writes:

I was after work teaching English in a government secondary school, but had landed not a single interview. I did no end of tinkering on my applications to make them more attractive. I even sought advice from the staff where I gained my secondary teaching qualification; but nothing worked. As months passed I was utterly baffled, and depressed.

So forming a database, then examining the statistics, appeared a means to fathom who government sector schools were selecting ..

… Had the government checked its own figures for potential bias, it would have spotted two schools standing out in the surveyed Melbourne region. Taylors Lakes Secondary College appointed nine women English teachers and two men English teachers during the two-year survey period, which equates to over four women hired for every man.

This imbalance paled against Keilor Downs Secondary College, which appointed seventeen female teachers and only one male teacher in the survey period.

Seventeen-to-one is seriously disproportionate. It cannot be reconciled statistically with impartial, unprejudiced staff selection. Men didn’t seem to stand a chance. Women kept scoring the jobs whenever Keilor Downs advertised for English teachers.

Christopher’s account of his travails can be read in full here.

For further insights, the topics under discussion at the recently concluded Gender and Education Conference at Newcastle University makes fascinating reading.

Judging by the topic titles and their misspellings, english teachers are sorely needed in our schools.


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