Those of my generation will remember the verse from the folk song about ‘where have all the young men gone?’ Written by the great Peter Seeger in the 1950s and, so Wikipedia informs me, based on a Cossack song and an Irish lumberjack tune, it became one of the most covered and well known of political folk songs of its generation.
I was reminded of the line when looking through the detailed tables in the DfE’s Workforce Statistics for 2018, published earlier today. Among men under the age of 25 there are just 3,159 working as classroom teachers in secondary schools across England compared with 2,005 working as classroom teachers in the primary sector. Surprisingly, that’s better than a generation ago. In March 1997, the DfE recorded just 900 male primary school teachers under the age of 25 and 2,070 in that age group working as teachers in secondary schools. So, net gains all round and proportionally more so in the primary sector.
However, if you also look at the 45-49 age grouping for the number of men working as classroom teachers, the numbers are dramatically lower. In the primary sector, down from 8,215 classroom teachers to just 2,053, and in the secondary sector, from 23,602 to just 7,882, in the years between 1997 and 2018. Overall male teacher numbers fell from 31,000 to 25,311 in the primary sector between 1997 and 2018, and in the secondary sector from 90,100 to 64,513 during the same period.
The differences at more senior levels are not as easy to discover as less attention was paid in the 1990s to the gender of head teachers. However, I suspect that men have more than held their own in head teacher appointments, especially in the secondary sector, where women still from only a minority of the nation’s head teachers.
The proportion of non-White teachers in the profession remains small, especially in the more senior leadership posts. Whereas some 15% of classroom teachers are not White British, along with 10.3% of assistant and deputy heads, and some seven per cent of head teachers, these numbers fall if White Irish and other teachers classified by the DfE as from ‘any other white background’ are included. BAME percentages fall to less than 10% of classroom teachers and little more than four per cent of head teachers. Many are, I suspect, located only in a few distinct parts of England.
Overall numbers of entrants to the profession were static in 2018 compared with 2017, but this masked a fall in full-time entrants that was balanced by an increase in part-time entrants. The number of full-time entrants was at the lowest level since 2011, and must be some cause for concern, especially with the secondary school pupil population on the increase. Also of concern is the fact that the percentage of entrants under the age of 25 was at its lowest percentage since before 2011, when the workforce Census started, at 26.4% of entrants.
The profession cannot afford to lose any of its youngest teachers. A future post will look at trends in the retention of teachers.