Planned entry requirement changes for primary teaching degrees could push the job out of reach of even more men, this year’s Leaving Cert results suggest.
The gender breakdown of performance and higher-level participation in English, Irish, and maths show obstacles to male entry to these courses, even based on existing standards.
The profession is dominated by women but there have been campaigns to attract men, particularly at primary level.
The Teaching Council, the profession’s self-regulating body, proposes new standards in all three subjects for all entrants to Bachelor of Education degrees from next year, when they will also increase from three-year to four-year programmes.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn also wants higher levels of proficiency in these subjects to support the rollout of his literacy and numeracy strategy.
CAO points needed for entry to the two main BEd programmes, at St Patrick’s College in Dublin and Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, were 470 out of a maximum 625.
The council proposals, published a year ago but still out for consultation, include an increased requirement in Leaving Cert Irish of a higher-level B1 or better. Currently, places are allocated to those with a higher-level C3 or higher.
However, State Examinations Commission figures show that just 5,837 male students took higher-level Irish this year, compared with 10,100 girls.
Almost 18,000 girls and 15,000 boys took higher-level English, but the Teaching Council proposes BEd students must have a minimum of B1 at higher level instead of the D3 or ordinary-level C3 needed.
Improved maths requirements are also proposed, but it remains one of the few subjects in which higher-level participation is greater among boys.
However, as reported in the Irish Examiner last week, more girls took advantage of the incentive to pursue higher-level maths. With 25 additional CAO points given to anybody who passed, the exams were taken by 23% of boys (5,972) and 21% of girls (5,159), further bridging a wider gap of previous years.
The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation said careful consideration should be given to the impact of the proposed entry changes on numbers of men and women studying to be teachers.
A spokesperson said: “It is clear that subject choice for the Leaving Certificate is a factor with nearly twice as many girls as boys taking honours Irish, a current entry requirement.”
In a recent discussion document on teacher education in Ireland, former University College Cork vice-president Áine Hyland suggested that specific literacy and numeracy tests for applicants to teacher training programmes might be more appropriate than the proposed changes.
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