This month Children’s and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi has announced a £30,000 grant to support a scheme aimed at providing more male role models for children in the early years. The project, run by the Fatherhood Institute, aims to increase male practitioners by challenging existing stereotypes around men’s roles in early education.
Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi:
“Every child needs a role-model to guide them – whether that’s a parent, a close family member or friend, or someone at nursery or preschool that makes a difference in their life. The early years staff who support children in the first few years of their education equip them with important skills before they reach the classroom, getting them on track to succeed as they get older.
“Just as parenting is a shared responsibility, so is kickstarting a child’s love of learning. I want more men to play a positive role in educating and caring for our next generation. That’s why we’re supporting the Fatherhood Institute to encourage men from all walks of life into early years careers, to give children the best start in life and be a part of this important and rewarding sector.”
Bright Minds Daycare welcomes and supports this scheme. We believe that encouraging more men into the sector will not only lead to improved outcomes for children but will also challenge perceptions that childcare is a woman’s work. However, with challenges around pay, perception and inequality, encouraging the participation of men in the sector is not easy. Bright Minds Daycare actively take steps to balance this:
We challenge the stigma: The stigma around men in early years has been ingrained over time and this deep-seated cultural issue must be addressed. Whilst it is hard to change a culture that has lasted for decades, Bright Minds Daycare is prepared to do just that. We support parents who may have concerns and fears around male practitioners to understand the diversity this brings to the setting. Our ‘open door’ policy means parents feel comfortable to talk to us about their queries as they arise, giving us the opportunity discuss their concerns and provide guidance on the issue. It is important that all our practitioners feel supported by the management team at Bright Minds, and this is particularly important with male colleagues.
Bright Minds Daycare practitioner Connor stated “In my previous nursery there were tasks I wasn’t allowed to do because of my gender. I considered leaving the sector because of the stigma attached to men in early years, but Bright Minds Daycare have made me see that early years is for me. They support me when parents have queries related to male practitioners and I have been able to access training based on my interests such as schemas and outdoor play. I can see a future in early years and would like to become a manager at Bright Minds Daycare in the long term.”
We offer professional development and ongoing opportunities: Bright Minds Daycare are passionate about ongoing training and development for our whole team. Our ‘STAR’ CPD framework ensures that all staff can access a wide range of training, offering opportunities for growth and development in the sector. We are currently developing our own gender and diversity training which will be offered to all staff across the organisation.
We recruit on values not gender: Bright Minds Daycare encourage male applicants for all our roles, ensuring our recruitment takes a values-based approach. We continually strive to adapt our recruitment campaigns to breakdown gender stereotypes. Our recruitment processes are robust and begin with a values based approach before looking into knowledge, skills and a practical session with the children. In addition, our safe recruitment processes ensure that every practitioner is safe to work with children, regardless of their gender.
At Bright Minds Daycare, we recognise the importance of young children having both male and female role models in their early years. We believe that there is still a way to go to address the gender balance, but the Fatherhood Institute project is a huge step in the right direction and one which we will continue to support.