Friday, 9 May 2014

Men in Childcare

In recent weeks I've had a number of enquiries about the topic of men working in childcare, so this post aims to pull together some resources that can provide more information on this subject.

In a thoughtful article from 2012, Day Nurseries point out that as far back as 1998, a government report addressed the issue of men in childcare by stating that "Working with children is seen as a predominantly female occupation. Yet male carers have much to offer, including acting as positive role models for boys - especially from families where the father is absent." Yet the Nutbrown Review of 2012 found that just 1-2% of staff in early childcare settings were male. So the issue doesn't seem to be disappearing! Interestingly, the figures are almost identical in other countries (just 2% male staff in New Zealand), and are the complete opposite of a 2011 survey by the Pre-School Learning Alliance which found that 98% of parents who used day nurseries would be happy to allow men to care for their children.

So that's the issue summarised in numbers - how do policy papers and research account for the situation? The most recent detailed report in this area seems to be Men Working in Childcare, a 2012 publication from LEYF which examines previous research in this area, and just as importantly finds out from children what their views are. Another detailed piece of research is Heather Rolfe's 2006 report Men in Childcare, although some of the information it contains may now have been superseded. The same applies to Men's Work?, a 2003 leaflet issued by the Daycare Trust.

More recently, Charlotte Jones of Birmingham City University has produced a couple of short papers for Tactyc which examine the issue of men working in childcare - these are available here and here; an early version of a 2006 journal article by Claire Cameron entitled Men in the Nursery Revisited is also freely available by clicking here; and if you'd like suggestions for further reading, then this resource list from the Irish Men in Childcare Network should give you plenty of ideas.

Finally, there seems to be something missing from all of the above... none of them directly contain the views of the men who do already have jobs in childcare! To hear what male early years practitioners have to say about their work, try listening to some of the editions of Kathy Brodie's Men in Childcare Podcast (8 episodes and counting), in which the interviewees reflect on their experiences and the challenges they face.

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