by Rosie Bernard - Nursery World

Held in Southampton next February, the conference will also introduce a charter for early years settings that welcome male practitioners.

Currently less than 2 per cent of the early years workforce is male and the aim is to build up a national resource bank to lobby the Government to encourage men to enter the profession.

‘We are taking this bold step in organising our event, after many years of advocacy and campaigning because we feel strongly that we need to do something,’ he said.

‘We would love to see the United Kingdom lead the world in the gender balance of our early years workforce.’

A series of panel discussions and workshops at the conference will address the barriers preventing men from entering early years education, as well as the practical issues they face within the profession.

‘Early Years, a Career for Everyone’ will feature speakers, workshops, networking opportunities and an exhibition area for men working in childcare.

Mr Wright added, ‘The arguments for more men working to care for and teach our youngest children are compelling. We are denying children access to a diverse workforce and the wider range of opportunities and experiences possible through men and women working together to meet the needs of boys and girls.

‘As early years providers and practitioners, we understand the profound effect of the reciprocal relationship and interactions we have with our children.

‘I speak to many men working in early years who have powerful testimonials to just such experiences. Now, more than ever, we need committed individuals to help close the attainment gap for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.’

Education and childcare minister Sam Gyimah has already offered his support and will be sending a representative to the conference.

City College Southampton has provided it facilities for the event. The higher education college has previously worked with Mr Wright to promote equality in careers advice.

‘Early Years, a Career for Everyone’ will take place on Saturday 13 February 2016. Early bird tickets cost £25 and lunch is included.