Men in childcare - why are we still debating this?
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Just when you think that you are beginning to open people's eyes and ears as to the benefits of having men working in childcare settings, along comes the ill- informed and ignorant commentators. This time, and most worryingly from Andrea Leadsom; a woman who thought she could be Prime Minister on the basis of her speechifying about Brexit. I hope our new Prime Minister pays attention to her Brexit team's combined diplomacy…
In 2012, LEYF produced the Men in Childcare report, and I have been a public champion of men in childcare since 2013. Men in childcare is good for children, good for staff teams and good for society.
In 2013, I set up the London Men in Childcare Network, organised the first National Men in Childcare Conference in London, won the Nursery World Inclusion Award and presented to the government All Party Parliamentary Group. We supported colleagues in other parts of the UK who wanted to form networks and we made a film to enlighten others about the benefits of having a gender balanced workforce. Not bad going given we had no budget and had to address a range of responses.
Since then David Wright at Paint Pots has taken up the charge and organised the first National Men in Childcare Conference in Southampton and continues to support the extension of local networks.
The key champions of men in childcare are women. We have heard many a change of heart from women who realised the benefits to the children and the sector. Here is one comment from a female manager: "I would not have appointed a male member of staff but for getting involved with the Network. I changed my attitude, my approach to recruitment and the whole way I operate and I am so glad I did."
In the words of Abraham Lincoln: "These men ask for just the same thing: fairness, and fairness only."
June O,Sullivan is chief executive of London Early Years Foundation. Her blog first appeared on the LEYF website