Men in School-Centred Initial Teacher Training: An Exploration of Issues and Experiences in One Primary SCITT

Walker, Lynn Jean (2018). Men in School-Centred Initial Teacher Training: An Exploration of Issues and Experiences in One Primary SCITT. EdD thesis The Open University.

Abstract

Poor retention of men is seen across all types of primary teacher training programmes in England. Previous research has largely focused on undergraduate and postgraduate university routes to teaching. This study concentrates on a small number of men in a one year school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) programme, a professional learning pathway to teaching which the government now actively promotes, to explore how these trainees experience the female-dominated environment of the primary school.

The research framework uses theories of identity (Beauchamp and Thomas 2009), including gender (Skelton 2003), communities of practice (Wenger 1998) and social constructivism (Vygotsky 1978) to explore the challenges male primary trainees encounter as they negotiate who and what they are , professionally and personally, as a teacher and as a man, within the primary school. Findings include: performing stereotypical gender roles in school appears to enable the participation of male trainees; men can feel excluded in the all-female social space of the school staffroom; men feel unfairly scrutinised in safeguarding discussions and training; mentors report difficulties in supporting men who are mature career-changers.

The research sits within a qualitative, interpretive paradigm and uses a case study approach; the male trainees on the SCITT programme constitute the case. The study uses mixed methods of data collection: semi-structured interviews with male trainees, documents profiling the characteristics of cohorts of men over five years, an all-male focus group discussion and mentor questionnaires. Although numbers are small, the study explores a problem which is replicated nationally and has persisted for generations, in the new context of SCITT.

The data suggest that school-centred training, where men are required to assume a professional role quickly, offers little preparation or space for thought about gender and masculinities. The study concludes with suggestions for SCITTs to consider how they can support male trainees.

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