by Catherine Gaunt - Nursery World

A new recruit makes up a quartet of men working in a south London nursery.

Ruskin House School, a family-run childcare business in Herne Hill, has had men on the staff for the past ten years.

For Howard Blackman, age 25, who started at the nursery earlier this month, it is his first job in childcare. He said, ‘I love interacting with the children. They never fail to make me smile.’

Manager Kandice Keenan, daughter of owner Dawn Green, who set up the nursery in 1985 when Kandice was a baby, said, ‘I think you would be lucky to find such a diverse setting as ours. I feel it is of real importance for the children to have the opportunity of interacting with both male and female nursery nurses.’

Chris Parker, 37, has been working at the nursery nearly a year and is graduating with an NVQ level 2 this week.

He said, ‘I’d worked in retail and liked the interaction with people. Then an opportunity came up in childcare – my wife knew someone who worked at the nursery. I thought I’d give it a go and I love it!’

He said he now wants to go on to study child development and psychology. ‘I find it fascinating how children learn, how they develop friendships. I don’t see myself becoming a manager; I want to stay in the hands-on classroom environment. I like the fact that you get the chance to be creative, that children are constantly asking questions, and that you learn something new from them and from your colleagues every day.’

Anthony O’Callaghan, 18, started at the nursery in February. He said, ‘The children are an inspiration and make it a joy for me to come to work.’

The longest-serving male worker, Lewis Moore, 27, who has been at Ruskin House for ten years, said that was like ‘a home from home’.