With his ‘Play Up Pompey!’ tattoo and tightly-cropped hair, naval officer Steve Legge stood out among the middle-aged women in floaty skirts.
He was one of the seven dads and one grandad who volunteered to give a more masculine feel to lessons at Copnor Infant School.
Other than one caretaker, the school employed no men.
Apart from trainees, it had not had a male teacher for more than 10 years – hundreds of pupils had passed through the school without any masculine influence in the classroom.
Head teacher Sylvia Fletcher said she would have loved to employ some men to give pupils positive male role models – but there was a shortage of suitable candidate.
She invited fathers into the school to help with reading after seeing research which suggested boys’ literacy improved with male involvement.
‘We looked at our results and they showed boys weren’t achieving as well as girls,’ she said.
‘We started out with men listening to just boys.
‘Now they listen to both boys and girls.
‘It’s too early yet to say whether it has helped but we hope it will be reflected in our English tests.’