Recruiting Men into Early Years: a new Fatherhood Institute project

10 July 2013

The Fatherhood Institute is leading a two-year project (2013-15), funded by the Department for Education, to help early education and childcare services develop and implement a strategy to recruit and retain more male staff and volunteers.

A 2012 survey by the London Early Years Foundation found that men are deterred from pursuing childcare careers because of societal attitudes, including the fear that they will be branded a paedophile (read their report in full here). Latest figures from the Department for Education show that only 2% of the daycare and childminders’ workforce was male in 2010 – even though surveys suggest that the vast majority of parents welcome male childcare staff.

In our project we will work with key managers and staff in four local authorities to develop a strategy, drawing on emerging good practice worldwide, and a Year 1 survey of practice in England. The strategy will include encouraging boys, young men and fathers to access local volunteering, training and career opportunities in early education and childcare. We will identify eight local authorities (the initial four, plus four others) to adopt similar strategies in Year 2. Our target is to enhance recruitment of men as volunteers in early years settings in at least four authorities by 10%, by the end of the project.

If you would like to know more about our project and/or feel you could contribute to its success, please contact David Bartlett on d.bartlett(at) or tel 07958 042 476.

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  • Andrew says:


    I enrolled on an early years apprenticeship shortly after leaving school and as a 16 year old male received a lot of jokes/criticism from friends purely from the adolescent attitude towards men and young children…. Fortunately I can say I didn’t let this deter me from my chosen path but the sad fact was that after 2 years as a nursery nurse (after proving my competence and popularity with both children and staff) I had an allegation made against me by a family from an ethnic background, after they had previously voiced their concerns about a male looking after their child, although the allegation was completely unfounded it made me question why I would work under this scrutiny when the workforce really benefitted my presence. This is why (I fear) young men are deterred from this career and feel it is the select few which make it so much harder so I can only give my support and encouragement to all those who go against traditional gender roles.

    • Jez says:

      Thank you for posting, this is interesting reading.
      I wonder how much support the setting gave you? I remember a similar scenario which led to the male worker almost leaving his post, exhausted by the constant scrutiny and mistrust. The setting had to change, the managers explained to the parents why it was good to have men in the setting and held a discussion that meant that parents felt listened to. Of course it should not come to that, but male workers need to feel supported and valued and parents need to be worked with in partnership. Men do care, in the home and in settings.

  • Mike Williams says:

    I was happy to be the only male attending a Certificate in Early Years Practice, because we had a good crowd. Even before gaining straight distinctions I was told that, as a male, I would be much in demand. Sadly, I didn’t find this to be the case and became disillusioned, because I discovered my Certificate really wasn’t worth anything near what the college had told me it would be. It was also more cost and time effective for me to continue to look after our son. Another blow came when our son was diagnosed with Autism and learning difficulties. As such, I have remained his primary and paid carer (until this government cancels his DLA, I guess). If I ever do pursue work in the early years field, it will most likely be in a special needs school. At the moment though, I’m enjoying being Mike, the green guitar man, for four classes at a Hampshire Special School, on a voluntary basis.
    Yes, it was me that submitted some articles for Fatherhood Institute in 2006 (or Fathers Direct, as it was then)

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