MORE men are being urged to become teachers after new figures reveal the region’s classroom gender gap is the widest in the country.

Government statistics show just one in four teachers in North-East schools are male - prompting education charity Teach First to issue a call for men to join the profession.

County Durham had the lowest percentage of male primary and secondary teachers in the region at just 22.4 per cent, while Stockton and Sunderland had less than 24 per cent.

Across North Yorkshire, the picture was similar with the Hambleton and Richmondshire districts recording the lowest figures with 16.8 and 18.6 per cents respectively.

Men made up less than a quarter of the teaching workforce in half of the 12 North-East local authorities. Nationally 26 per cent of teachers in England are men, a share which has declined since 2010.

Teach First recruits and trains top graduates and career changers to work in schools serving low income communities.

With a mission to end the education inequalities faced by poorer pupils, it currently operates in nearly 40 North-East schools.

The charity warns that at a time when schools are facing a teaching shortage, the lack of men entering the profession is an untapped resource.

Teach First said it is important that the profession reflects the make-up of classrooms, and that young people need access to committed, talented and knowledgeable individuals from a range of backgrounds.

David Harding, a teacher in County Durham who started on the Teach First programme in 2013, said: “Becoming a teacher is possibly the best decision I have ever made. Teaching is both a challenging and a rewarding career that I would thoroughly recommend to anyone.

“Teaching is a tough job, however having the opportunity to make a direct impact on the lives of so many young people far outweighs this.

“Nothing compares to the feeling you get when a child that you have taught achieves something that they never thought they could.”

Colin Ferguson, Teach First North-East director, said: “It is a real loss that the profession is missing out on talented classroom leaders because a huge pool of people are being put off by misconceptions about teaching.

“Teaching is a hugely challenging and rewarding career, and our young people need role models from all backgrounds to unlock their potential and aspiration, and to help them understand the world.”

“If you’re looking for a challenge - one where you can use your intelligence and personality to help solve one of the country’s biggest problems - Teach First has a unique opportunity for you. Open an application today.”

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “Teaching has for many become an unattractive option in comparison to other graduate professions and this has led to the current recruitment and retention crisis.

“To stop this problem we need to see significant changes from Government in particular to teacher workload and the unnecessary assessment and accountability measures that take up so much of teachers time for little educational purpose.

“Cuts to school budgets are also forcing many headteacher to leave posts unfilled when vacancies arise.

“The NUT and ATL website shows how each individual school in England could be affected by inadequate school funding and the number of teachers that schools could lose as a result.”