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A Man In Childcare


DavidW
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I have recently returned from the World Forum on Early Years, in Belfast, World Forum Foundation 2009 - Belfast where I met up with representatives from the international working group on Men in Childcare and committed to working with their activities at a global level and to try and redress the gender imbalance within our own UK childcare workforce.

 

There are several aspects to the under-representation of males where I would be keen to see further activity -

 

• Continued media activity to highlight the need for balanced gender representation within the childcare workforce. I am utterly convinced of the need for good male role models for our children, especially for boys. At present, the care and development of our children is predominantly left to females. More and more children come from single female parent families or have negative experiences of males in their lives. My personal experience tells me that these children need both women and men in the Early Years workforce.

• The identification of, engagement with and support for existing males within the workforce. Not to set them apart as a different species, but the feedback from the 3 men who work for me, out of 56 employees, is that it can be intimidating and lonely to enter a predominantly female environment.

• Development of a network of mentors, willing to support and encourage male student placements and those new to the profession. Which employers are willing to take a chance on a male worker if he proves to be the best person for the job?

• Engagement with key stakeholders to raise awareness of the need and opportunities for men in childcare. Eg male childcarer representation at job fairs, speaking to careers advisers, colleges, jobcentre advisers etc. Early Years child care and development being proposed as a highly skilled and vital profession for men considering a career change eg following redundancy.

• There is a need to shift the cultural thinking for men and women, that –

• Working with young children is an important and socially acceptable profession for men.

• The vast majority of men and women are not paedophiles.

• Men and women provide complementary roles and can work together effectively for the benefit of children.

 

I would be very happy to hear from like minded individuals, to try and progress some of these items. My thoughts at the moment are to try and identify / locate men and women interested in having more men working in childcare; to organise a national summit at which to agree an action plan.

 

David

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Just some first toughts after reading your post.

 

I agree entirely with your comments regarding gender imbalance and the benefits to children to have this imbalance rectified.

I am surprised that you haven't mentioned 'pay' as one of the aspects of under representation.

 

I also think that culturally as a nation we don't value the role of the 'father' in terms of how easy it is for many men to 'walk away' from this responsibility and on the other side of the coin (so to speak) how under represented in law (in many aspects such as work / life balance, when seperated from the mother etc etc) are the fathers who do want to have a profound role in their childrens lives

There is a long way to go before there is 'equality' in the workplace for both males and females, this needs to be addressed otherwise I think that if the campaign to get more men within the childcare sector is successful, they will tend to be placed in managerial, leadership roles which is ok but I'd like to see men in equivical positions to the women. To be just as many 'indians' as well as 'chiefs'.

 

Peggy

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I carried out a piece of research during my degree couple of years ago into 'the lack of men in the sector, and also carried this further writing my dissertation around the stereotypical role of the father. As part of my Masters Dissertation this year I intend to further expand on these subjects. This is a subject I am very passionate about!

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From a setting with 3 full time men-

Parents love it

Children love it

fanatastic balance for staff and children

bit less bitching- although please note quite often find the guys in the thick of any going on

 

to be honest no big deal in my setting- best person gets the job.

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I would be very happy to hear from like minded individuals, to try and progress some of these items. My thoughts at the moment are to try and identify / locate men and women interested in having more men working in childcare; to organise a national summit at which to agree an action plan.

You're pushing on an open door here - who wouldn't want to get more men into childcare? Its a defininte win/win situation. Would love to employ a man if he was the best candidate for the job but sadly I have never had a male candidate. I'm guessing that not many men are looking for part-time (sessional) hours and term time only working. I know such a species exists: just that none of them have ever applied to work in my setting!

 

A lot of our issues stem from how we attract our youngest members of the workforce: not only do we need to get away from the idea that childcare is the sort of job you do when you're not sure what you really want to do, but perhaps we should also be targetting our young men and making them feel that it is a worthworthwhile career.

 

The problem is how to do it!

 

Maz

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The problem is how to do it!

 

There is no magic formula I am afraid. The problem is systemic and deeply rooted in society as a whole. Until the entire culture makes significant strides towards change then the problem will persist, in the same way as it has done in Primary Education (Early Years is not alone here - check the stats).

 

I'm a bloke (obviously), I work in Early Years now and have been a stay-at-home Dad since my daughter was born 6 years ago. I have, in many ways, ended up here by mistake, although it is by far the best mistake I ever made!

 

All the way through those 6 years I have faced constant sexism, been marginalised by my new-found peers (the "playground mafia" as they are affectionattely known in these parts) and have basically battled long and hard to get the recognition that mothers gain by default. Until there is a quantum leap in terms of attitudes in that respect, I would wager that the vast majority of men will simply steer well clear.

 

Tackle those issues first, then we can debate what other mechanisms to put in place to encourage more men into the sector. Leave them unresolved and we are wasting our time thinking about it.

 

Cheers,

DDC.

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I'm a bloke (obviously), I work in Early Years now and have been a stay-at-home Dad since my daughter was born 6 years ago. I have, in many ways, ended up here by mistake, although it is by far the best mistake I ever made!

This was my main bone of contention with the Minister yesterday - as a person who fell into childcare in the usual way through volunteering, I felt as if she was dismissing my contribution because I hadn't set out to have a career in childcare. Sorry - I digress!

 

A call to arms for the brightest and the best to join the childcare workforce probably sounded quite good on paper - but how many of them will be men and how will we pay them all?

 

Jane Haywood had it right yesterday when she said that we have made this EYPS vision a reality on the back of our own hard work and commitment, without a promise of anything in return - certainly not raised salaries or even increased status and respect from the wider community. I'm not sure that will work on the numbers of males we need to redress the gender imbalance of the early years workforce, nor on the brightest and the best that the Minister has set her heart on. Salary will be a huge issue for the majority of men who need to support a family, but I fear that there are far more fundamental issues that we need to address before salary even comes into the equation.

 

I'm not a bloke (obviously) and I wouldn't claim to speak on their behalf. We need more input from the men already in the workforce so that we can identify what needs to be changed before we work out how to change it.

 

Over to you, chaps!

 

Maz

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I have worked in New Zealand, Australia and the UK in a variety of early years settings and now as an academic am very interested in the whole discourse surrounding 'men in childcare' The history of men in the early years has always been one of 'surges or interest' at the moment in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Scotland, USA and the Scandinavian countries there is a vibrant community of men, and highly active groups. What they all have in common is a core group of people working to steer the groups and a common approach.

 

The answer to the "but how" question is to follow this lead - we need to begin with a working party / steering group and work towards a summit with the aim of establishing a formal network / organisation of men in ALL early childhood settings. This will provide an identifiable group which can then be included in stakeholder discussions.

 

I am very keen to support this, and to that extent would be more than happy to offer my services as a convener of the working party.

 

We need a few interested and able members to begin with who can drive this forward.

 

Please contact me on: r.j.harty@uel.ac.uk if you are interested and we can move forward on this (I have some other contacts outside this forum already who would be will to support this)

 

Richard

Senior Lecturer

Programme Leader Early Childhood Studies

Programme Leader Early Childhood Studies (with Practitioner Options)

University of East London

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It's great to see this thread on here.

 

At our last committee meeting I mentioned how great it would be to have a man on staff. (The reaction was a bit muted to be honest.)

 

I'd also LOVE to have a man on the committee as well, it would save that emotional stuff that tends to happen when you get all women (I know this is stereotyping but you wouldn't believe the week I've had).

 

It's also a huge issue in primary schools generally.

 

It must be so hard for men as people are just generally far too suspicious these days. The media really doesn't help.

 

Not sure I've added anything meaningful or helpful there.

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The answer to the "but how" question is to follow this lead - we need to begin with a working party / steering group and work towards a summit with the aim of establishing a formal network / organisation of men in ALL early childhood settings. This will provide an identifiable group which can then be included in stakeholder discussions.

 

You may well be right. I guess we need to start somewhere and if a large enough body of people can be established then, who knows, someone may just sit up and pay attention.

 

My major concern with any focus group of this kind would be that there is an ever-present danger of creating a divide between the male and female sides of the workforce. If this working party is to have any impact whatsoever it is vital that representatives from all parties are on board and singing from the same hymn sheet. Without weighty support from the female portion of the workforce, this will never get off the ground.

 

Make no mistake, it will be a very long and difficult road to travel but I am more than willing to throw myself into the mix in any way I can (I have sent you a separate email message to this end).

 

Cheers,

DDC.

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If I can be of any assistance, I will gladly join in. Having worked with men in the past (both as practitioners and volunteers) I have seen just what they can add to the mix and the experience the children receive.

 

Sue

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My major concern with any focus group of this kind would be that there is an ever-present danger of creating a divide between the male and female sides of the workforce.

I think it is brave of you to raise this aspect, DDC because I think we need to admit that some of the barriers to men getting involved in childcare are in fact put up by women: whether they are mothers of children in day care, or colleagues in the settings men hope to join.

 

Certainly if we are to make the gender balance in early years more reflective of the wider world then we need both men and women working together to make it happen. We need an open and honest dialogue about what the issues are before we can begin to work out what to do about it.

 

Or am I repeating myself now?

 

I'm really very interested to see where this discussion leads!

 

Maz

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Nice to have men among our colleagues here in the EYFS! Welcome to the new ones and thanks for all of your contributions that give a balance to our working force and in benefit of our children. I work in a school which receives children from 2 and a half years old until they finish their A-Level I or II. We have 3 men in Primary and have had 3 men in Secondary. Apart of that, we have 2 other men in the Administration, who also give lessons in Secondary, which brings that up to 5. Our children get to know most of them and feel very happy. Oh, yes, the carpenter/maintenance man comes once a year to our class and let's the children explore his tools. Our children become "Bob's" and "Wendy's" :o

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"My major concern with any focus group of this kind would be that there is an ever-present danger of creating a divide between the male and female sides of the workforce"

 

Sorry have not figured the 'quote' thing yet!

 

You are of course right - but lets not get lost in semantics around words - the foucus would of course be men in early childhood, however this fits very nicely into workforce development issues.

One of the first jobs of the focus group wouild be to iron out the semantics - the word childcare for example excludes many early years settings

 

Richard

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Thanks for your contributions so far, everyone. I think it's good that we have re-started the debate. I also think we have covered the main points. Thanks to Richard for volunteering to act as a contact point. To address some of the responses, as I stated in my inital post, this is not about setting up a clique, it is an attempt to redress the imbalance in gender representation in the workforce. It would be defeatist to say things will never change. I think we owe it to children to provide them with the best care and development we are able to. If half the potential workforce is currently excluded from working in our sector, for the reasons stated, we are denying children their entitlement. If you are interested in progressing this issue, please get in touch with Richard and we will endeavour to coordinate activities, as Richard has described.

 

David

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It would be defeatist to say things will never change.

 

I don't think anyone is suggesting that things will never change, merely that in order for that change to take place we need to go right down to the very root of the problem.

 

Things WILL NOT change if we try to start half way up the stem. If you pull up a weed in your garden and don't get the whole root out, the blasted thing will keep coming back...

 

Cheers,

DDC.

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Evening all

 

Just want to say I totally agree that there should be more men working in the childcare sector and that more should be done to encourage and promote this as a career choice for men.

 

The only experience I have of this I'm ashamed to say, is that I have recently finished my Level 3 in childcare and we had a man on the course. (First one in quite a few years apparently!!) He was a great guy and the assessor took the opportunity in front of the class to say that his 'placement assessment' was one of the best she had ever seen, as he used ideas and opportunitys that she had never seen before.

 

One of my friends does a school exchange/outings and she has come across him many times. The children love him and she feels that he brings a little extra something when he is there, although she cant find the words to descibe it!!!

 

Off the subject now, how did I not hear about the thing in Belfast??????? :o

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Off the subject now, how did I not hear about the thing in Belfast??????? :o

 

Thanks for the supportive post. When I have 20 minutes, I will upload a report on the World Forum. It was very inspiring, with 600 delegates from 73 diferent countries. There's not much up on the website about it yet - www.worldforumfoundation.org, but photos, reports etc should be there in the coming weeks. There weren't many UK colleagues but it was hosted by Northern Ireland Early Years (who were lovely people, by the way). As it is a US initiated event, it doesn't seem to have so much publicity in Europe.

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I definatly think more men should be in the early years.

I am a childminder and my husband in the past also worked with me for nearly 2 years. The children loved him (especially 1 child who was from a single family and had no contact with Dad- they bonded really well).

When the child minding went quiet and money was tight he then also did playschool a few sessions a week which he rally liked. Unfortunalty he is now not in child care anymore as like someone I think has already said the pay is not great and once our family growed and my child minding spaces reduced we could not live on both of us being on a child care wage!!

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We have just employed an 18 year old male in the nursery. He has just finsihed A levels and wants to persue a career in teaching but to make sure he is making the right decision he has taken up a part-time post with us. The children love him, the staff are very uplifted and the parents are very positive. Lets hope it continues

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Hi All

 

Thanks for engaging with this thread - I am now on leave for the summer but immediately on my return I will be convening the working party. Please if you are interested in being a part of this process e-mail me on my work e-mail.....EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED-PLEASE SEND RICHARD A PM (personal message through 'my controls') ............ so that I have your e-mail in my system, I have a few names so far but more would be appreciated.

 

Richard

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Please if you are interested in being a part of this process e-mail me on my work e-mail ......EMAIL REMOVED so that I have your e-mail in my system,

Cut and pasted the email address you gave kiwiman but my email came bouncing back to me!

 

Maz

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Cut and pasted the email address you gave kiwiman but my email came bouncing back to me!

 

Maz

 

It was a typo Maz - Richard's email address is ......................... :o

 

Cheers,

DDC

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been very interested in Steve's thread asking us to vote for our top five 'hot' issues in our EYFS practice, and have been watching the figures closely - especially those for the category of men in childcare.

 

What does the extremely low number for this category tell us about what we really feel about men in the childcare workforce?

 

  • Is it an 'icing on the cake' issue that will only truly take off once more pressing underlying issues have been addressed?
  • Is it something we know we all agree should be tackled, but we lack the motivation?
  • Are we just not bothered that much about it, despite what we might say to the contrary?

 

How do we weigh up the comparative importance of the 'men in childcare' and 'long term funding and viability of settings'. If we don't fully answer the latter, the former will be an academic issue anyway.

 

Does it ultimately come down to our own individual passions and soap box subjects? If so, how many of these passions can we actively pursue at any one time?

 

I'm off before my head explodes!

 

Maz

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I agree with you Maz. The issue of men in childcare is an important one, but when it all boils down to it, the sustainability or otherwise of our settings is our priority. As you so rightly say, without them, it's academic anyway.

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But don't you think that if we continue to think this way then we'll never truly change anything? I really don't want to be one of those people who says "yes but...." all the time. Otherwise we'll never move on or improve or raise standards.

 

A newsletter I subscribe to has a thought for the day. Today's is:-

 

The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking - Robert H. Schuller

 

How do we find the balance between dreaming of (and working towards) a better place but remaining grounded in reality?

 

Maz

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Oh absolutely. But until the sector has financial credibility I don't think men will be attracted into it. Once men ARE in then perhaps credibility will follow - a sort of catch 22.

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I agree that finance is probably an issue. The lack of being rewarded appropriately undervalues the role, and reading recent reports I see that women still lag behind men in the pay stakes. Presumably there are many reasons for that, equality issues, old boy systems, still seeing the man as the 'breadwinner' etc. etc. A lack of men is echoed in the Primary School sector as well though, and there the pay is good in comparison with PVI settings. Similar concerns to men in childcare are expressed about the lack of male role-models in schools. Men tend to go into secondary teaching, and their pay is the same as primary, although there are far more promotion opportunities. So pay is not the main issue there. So what is? :o

I think that the perceptions of society are that it isn't a very macho thing to be doing, looking after small children and all the nappy and nose wiping aspects, so there is some perceived peer pressure there. Secondary is perceived as 'real teaching. Comments are sometimes made 'Oh you're only in Primary' or ' When will you be good enough to teach in the Juniors?" xD

I also wonder, and I'll get shot down for saying this probably, but men in a predominantly female environment may find it a bit threatening or not wish to engage in female banter. I have worked in schools with one male only, or only one other as well as the HT, and they have kept out of the staff room for a lot of the time.

I think that societies attitude to the importance of young children and their nurturing and development, needs to changed and be reflected in the pay and conditions.

I wonder what the men on here think?

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I also wonder, and I'll get shot down for saying this probably, but men in a predominantly female environment may find it a bit threatening or not wish to engage in female banter.

Is it that or are we as a bunch of women a bit suspicious and not very welcoming of men in the workforce? Does it depend upon the man's position and role within the team, his age and status etc?

 

As you say, it would be interesting to hear a man's viewpoint - I'm sure DaddyDayCare will oblige us with his views before long.

 

How many men are members here and why aren't we hearing their opinions?

 

Maz

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