A National Union of Teachers official has said that men are not taking up teaching places in primary schools because they are afraid of appearing gay.

Tony Souter, joint divisional secretary of the NUT, told the Coventry Telegraph: “It’s important that there are male role models in primary schools but a lot of the time we don’t see them.

“They are worried that if they say they’re a primary school teacher people will think they’re gay.

“The reality is that men and women become teachers because it’s an invigorating job and working with kids gives a real kick to people who want to do something that benefits society, rather than become a banker.

“But we’re not paying teachers enough, which leads to a perception that it’s a woman’s job providing a second income.”

Official figures show that men make up just 16 per cent of primary school teachers.