It makes me me sad to think fewer men are going into teaching. I recall several male teachers and each brought something special to their teaching. With my father also being a teacher, I believe I had a fairly good balance of male and female role models.

Fewer than one in five teachers is male. The Ministry of Education says there are no plans at this stage to target recruitment drives towards men, as there is no shortage of teachers.

In the early childhood sector, the figures are even more lacklustre. Only 3 per cent of of those teachers are men.

Principals Federation president Phil Harding says many schools struggle to hire male teachers and there are good reasons a more even gender split is desirable.

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"Look at the percentages of children that are living with no father in their daily lives. We see the fallout from that with boys who have lost their way, are desperately unhappy, and don't feel like they can talk about it with mum.

"So that all gets bottled up and rebounds in the playground in anger - deeply seated stuff."

Mr Harding said reasons for the imbalance were complex, but could include pay rates and sexual abuse cases involving male teachers.

It is indeed a sad legacy from such high-profile cases as that of Peter Ellis, a Christchurch creche worker who was accused and convicted of child molestation in the 1980s, that young men who may have a genuine interest in teaching are put off by the fact they could be seen in the same light.

I also believe young men who show aptitude and smarts are attracted, or perhaps guided, toward industries where there is promise of high returns and exciting lifestyles.

Although I think we should always encourage our young men to reach for the stars, we should not discourage those who have a passion for teaching and shaping other rising stars.

Young men should not be made to feel bad about wanting to teach.