Men in childcare are great roles models for children missing a father figure in their life, according to male nursery nurse Simon Austin.
Simon is a nursery nurse at the Walton-le-Dale setting of Carr Manor nursery and represents one of only 3% of males within the early years sector.
As the only male worker at his setting, Simon feels that he sometimes has more authority over the children than other female workers due to his gender.
“Some of the children are more favourable to me compared with the other female nurses. They see me as a figure of authority and listen to me, when sometimes they would react differently to female workers.
“Some can be a little hesitant towards me at first, but others think it’s cool that I’m a male nursery worker! I think I can be a good role model for some of the children who don’t have a father figure in their lives.”
Simon pursued a career in childcare after leaving school at 16. Despite being in such a minority, Simon became attracted to the industry through his passion to work as a primary school teacher and love of working with children.
“No two days are the same. Every day is different and the children are there to keep you on your toes! There’s always a wide variety of activities going on with the children and it’s great telling the parents what their child learnt that day and how they are progressing. It can be very rewarding.”
With no real development in the amount of males working in the industry, Simon feels it is a shame that more isn’t done to make the early years sector appeal to males.
“I haven’t seen any difference in the population of male childcare workers since I started. I was the only male on my childcare course and in my previous and current workplaces. Some people can be apprehensive about being in a class full of girls.
“Colleges should try to catch males young by making the role more appealing to males. The Course prospectus always seems to show pictures of girls playing with dolls rather than creating adverts that appeal to males too. Not enough is being done to encourage males to work in early years, especially nurseries.”
Despite being a popular member of the nursery team, Simon admits that a couple of the parents have taken a little longer to accept him in the past due to his gender.
“Most of the parents accept me, but some can take time to warm to you. One or two parents can take longer to warm to me, but they are fine once they get to know me better. I am conscious that being a male worker is unusual, but if males become more common then parents will be more accepting.”
Last year Surrey council launched a campaign to boost the male childcare workforce and though met with positive response, the sector still lacks ‘father figures’ that some children would enjoy.
Leslie Robinson, Area Manager at Carr Manor Nursery said, “We are proud to have a male practitioner in the nursery and would welcome more like Simon.”
Does your setting have male nursery nurses or are you a male nursery nurse yourself? Do you think that males can be more prominent with the children in their setting? Join the discussion and leave your comments below.