Teachers as Role Models: The Importance of Gender Balance in the Classroom

There is a sobering reality that has been spreading across the education sector in the past few decades. The presence of male teachers is in rapid decline, particularly in primary schools. Now down to a mere 18.3% in primary schools and 40% in secondary, this imbalance in the workforce has been causing widespread concern.

Much speculation abounds as to why this trend is occurring, including the self-perpetuating reality of boys not seeing enough role models in the classroom and assuming teaching is a job for women. Whatever the reason, it is clear that the situation is not ideal and there have been calls for the imbalance to be addressed.

Research suggests that male teachers are very important, particularly in the primary years, for both boys and girls, and there is an expressed need for both by both parents and students. Teachers have a significant role to play in showing students how to respond in appropriate ways to those of the opposite sex, including demonstrating positive and respectful interactions for students to echo.

Raising Boys author, Steve Biddulph writes compellingly of the importance of mentoring connections for boys, drawing out clearly the importance of connection and belonging. Teen males are crying out for great role models, particularly in single parent situations where there is an absence of a male altogether.

In light of the sharp decline, it is both encouraging and exceptional that at Belgrave Heights Christian School (BHCS) we have almost equal numbers of full time male and female teachers (50% male in primary and 46% in secondary).

Recent research conducted by Relational Schools founder, Rob Loe, confirms that the presence of gender balance is an important distinctive for our school.

A key finding in the study conducted on BHCS was that male students perceived a stronger relationship with male teachers, and female students perceived a stronger relationship with female teachers. Given that the teacher and student relationship reflects, in many ways, the relationship between parent and child, it requires a balance of both protective and nurturing roles to be performed. Loe states: ‘each gender narrative and story, with its unique expressions and challenges, presents an opportunity for students to thrive as individuals.’  The study also concludes that ‘students with secure attachments relate well to teachers and their peers and are far more confident when exploring relationships outside the primary context.’

At BHCS we are proud of all our teachers. We are grateful and encouraged to have a dynamic team of males and females who are committed to living lives of transformative power and who genuinely care about each and every student in their influence.

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