Stephen Morgan – 2022 Speech on Male Primary School Teachers

The speech made by Stephen Morgan, the Labour MP for Portsmouth South, in Westminster Hall, the House of Commons on 16 November 2022.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Gary. I want to start by thanking the hon. Member for Mansfield (Ben Bradley) for securing this debate on an issue that I know he cares passionately about. It is also an important issue to consider at a time when there are challenges facing the workforce in our nations’ schools, where we see a crisis in the recruitment and retention of teachers and school support staff. It is clear from the contributions from Members on both sides of the House that we all agree that male primary school teachers play a vital role in children’s and young people’s development.

The hon. Member for Mansfield spoke about ideas for practical action to remove or overcome barriers to teaching. He shared the views of parents and carers and mentioned the value of positive role models in schools. In their interventions, Members made helpful points about career progression, from coaching to teaching, and about making primary school teaching a more attractive profession. As ever, the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) made helpful points from his perspective in Northern Ireland, sharing figures and trends in the workforce and making helpful points around peer pressure and why that might be a barrier to more men coming forward to work in our nations’ primary schools.

Despite the strength of feeling across the House today about how much male primary school teachers have to offer in terms of equipping our next generation for the future, the Government have sat on their hands and failed to tackle the areas where they have fallen short. In response to a written parliamentary question from the hon. Member for Mansfield in October, they responded that they wanted to

“attract and retain diverse, talented teachers from all backgrounds, and this includes recruiting male teachers.”

The Labour party agrees with that approach, but why does the Government’s own data continue to show that males are under-represented in the primary school teaching workforce in England?

As we heard earlier, the most recent data states that just 15.5% of state-funded primary school teachers in England are male—around 34,000 out of a total workforce of 220,000. We also know that, for over four years now, that proportion has remained at the same level, and Ministers have failed to take action to improve it. Despite the stagnation, the latest Department for Education data indicates that recruitment of male primary school teachers shows no sign of improvement, with just 2,367 male primary school teachers recruited in 2021-22—a mere 16% of the total. That is in stark contrast to the more than 12,000 women, or 83%, who were recruited as primary school teachers during the same period. All children need positive male role models who come from a diverse range of backgrounds, and that includes male primary school teachers, yet the Government’s mismanagement of education is driving teachers away from classrooms.

I look forward to the Minister’s response on a number of points. What action is he taking to address the current levels of under-representation of male state-funded primary school teachers in England, including, specifically, on retention? What action is he taking to boost the recruitment of male primary school teachers in England and to tackle the stigma around male primary school teachers? Ministers cannot go on pointing to the wider economic fallout for their failure to recruit the diverse, representative teacher workforce in England that we need. It is the actions of the last 12 years of this tired Government that have got us into this mess. Labour is ambitious for our children’s futures and we will deliver the well-rounded education—

Justin Tomlinson

Will the hon. Member give way?

Stephen Morgan

I am just going to carry on. We will deliver the well-rounded education that our children need and deserve to ensure that they are ready for work and ready for life. If Conservative Ministers will not deliver that for our children, the next Labour Government will.