Lack of male teachers means boys are missing out - principal

A South Island principal says some boys are missing out because of a lack of male primary school teachers.

But the Ministry of Education says it's about the quality of teaching, not the gender of the teacher.

Of the 60 primary school teachers in the Balclutha area, Robin Siataga is the only male.

"It feels a little bit lonely at times," he says.

The Kaitangata Primary School teacher says your gender doesn't make you a better teacher, but he says it's important students have both female and male role models.

"For a lot of the children at schools and inner city schools where I've taught, you'd be the only positive male in the family, if not the only male that was present in their lives, and I think that's crucial."

Mr Siataga has noticed fewer and fewer men working in the industry. He says pay is a big problem, but the stigma around men working with children is also to blame. 

"That makes males more wary about being in the profession, I think."

Balclutha Primary School Principal Paddy Ford contacted Newshub about the problem as he believes it's a major concern.

"With some of the little boys that we've got, we need some more positive role models," he says.

"We just need to encourage men and let them know it's a fantastic job."

Ministry of Education figures show just 12 percent of primary school teachers are male, compared to 40 percent of high school teachers.

Overall, a quarter of teachers are male. Those figures have remained steady over the past decade.

The principals federation and the union say while the lack of male teachers is a concern, the bigger worry is a major teacher shortage across the country.

They say making teaching more appealing in general through better pay and less stress will encourage more people - male and female - to the profession.

Mr Saitaga says fewer male teachers also means fewer boys are encouraged to take up teaching.

"They're not seeing males in those jobs, you know it's not going to happen."

The Ministry of Education says research shows the quality of teaching, rather than the gender of the teacher, is what's important.