‘Role model’ or ‘facilitator’? Exploring male teachers’ and male trainees’ perceptions of the term ‘role model’ in England

Simon P Brownhill*, Paul Warwick, Jane Warwick, Eva Brown Hajdukova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
228 Downloads (Pure)


The call for more males to work with children in their formative years remains prevalent in education discourse across the globe. Assertions that these men will positively address boys’ poor behaviour and underachievement, as well as serving as father figures and role models for boys, continue to fuel international policy making and shape media reporting and public opinion. This paper interrogates findings from original research which set out to explore the perceptions of white male primary school educators in England (both teaching and training) in relation to the term ‘role model’. The results, drawn from a rigorous analysis of in-depth focus group interviews, highlight intriguing similarities and differences in professional thinking and suggest the need for a re-imaging of the term. The research has large-scale implications in terms of suggesting important revisions to ‘more-men’ policy making, for work-based professional training and development, and in informing societal discourse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalGender and Education
Issue number0
Early online date30 Sept 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

Simon Brownhill is a Senior Lecturer of Education (Teaching and Learning) at the School of Education, University of Bristol. With a specialism in pedagogy, he predominantly teaches on the MSc Education programme and supervises doctoral students (EdD and PhD). He previously worked as a Senior Teaching Associate as part of Education Reform and Innovation at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, principally serving as the lead trainer for the NIS Centre of Excellence leveled courses in Kazakhstan. His varied research and writing interests include supporting and training adult learners, children’s writing (fiction and non-fiction), effective behaviour management in the classroom (3-11), and men who work in the Early Years (0-8). Simon has published his work in high-impact peer-reviewed journal articles (e.g. Gender and Education) and has presented his research at international conferences, serving as a Keynote speaker in Ireland, Portugal and Indonesia. He is the co-author of Men in Early Years Settings: Building a Mixed Gender Workforce (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019).

Paul Warwick is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. He teaches on the PGCE, Masters and PhD programmes and is engaged in a range of research activities that link with his interests in oracy and dialogue in teaching and learning, primary science education, the uses of technology in learning and teaching, and the professional development of teacher trainees and beginning teachers. He has a particular interest in primary male teacher identity. He is currently engaged as the Principal UK Investigator on the Digitalised Dialogues Across the Curriculum (DiDiAC) project, funded by the Research Council of Norway and involving collaboration with the University of Oslo. For further details see https://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/people/staff/warwick_paul/

Jane Warwick is Course Manager for the Primary PGCE course at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. Whilst she has been in the role, the course has had three successful 'outstanding' Ofsted inspections and has been the highest ranked primary PGCE course nationally across all routes into teaching. She has taken the lead in instigating a ‘Men’s Group’ on the course and has been involved in research over several years investigating male teacher identity in the primary school. Jane is particularly interested in teachers' professional development in the area of mentoring; she leads a range of mentoring courses and has developed multi-media materials, focusing on mentor training, as part of a regional initiative. She has been involved in a number of Faculty-based research projects, including the SKIMA (Subject Knowledge in Mathematics) and ChAT (Children Articulating Thinking) projects. For further details see https://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/people/staff/warwick_jane/

Eva Brown Hajdukova is a Senior Associate within the Clinical Outcomes Assessment (COA) team at Parexel with over seven years’ experience in academia, educational and health research. Eva holds a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, followed by postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Cambridge, Queen Mary University of London, and the University of Hertfordshire. She has a record of scientific contributions including peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations. Eva has worked as both a special educational needs teacher and social and health educator for young people and children in a variety of settings including the United Kingdom, Slovakia, Norway, and the United States. For further details see https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Eva_Hajdukova.


  • Role model
  • Perceptions
  • Male teachers
  • Male trainees
  • Primary School


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