Statistics show that there is a significant contrast between the gender balance in maintained and independent school staffrooms.
Female teachers dominate in both maintained and private schools, according to DfE statistics. In 2013 just one in seven of the total teaching staff in state schools were male. By contrast, in private schools almost 40% of full-time equivalent teachers are male, according to a 2014 census by the Independent Schools Council, the Guardian reports.
Traditionally, independent schools attracted men who could teach a subject and “be the mainstay of the cricket team”, and the emphasis on extra-curricular activities still appeals. Neil Roskilly from the Independent Schools Association suggests “I think that is probably more attractive to a male recruit than a female recruit.”
A “more positive media image” of men in independent schools and the cyclical effect of men joining schools that already employ male teachers may also contribute, according to Brian Metcalfe, a year 6 teacher in a private school. “It can be a bit difficult coming into a staffroom as the only man,” he said. “In the first school I worked in there was me, another male teacher who was older and the head – the rest were women well into their sixties. As a 21 year-old man I found we certainly had very different interests.”
A clue may lie in the background of teachers in private schools. Men are more likely to spend more of their career in the independent sector, while women move between private and maintained schools. Of male teachers, 30% have spent their entire education in the private sector, compared with only 19% of women. Asked why they chose to teach in private schools, men tend to prioritise an academic focus, while class sizes and logistical reasons like location are more important for their female peers.
If you teach in the private sector, do you recognise the situation the statistics suggest? And what are your experiences of teaching in an independent school?