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Fathers and education

Supporting father-inclusive early years settings and primary schools

Why change is needed

Fathers’ impact on their children’s learning and development is significant, so there is a clear need to support their involvement at home and within education settings, alongside mothers. Opportunities to engage with fathers are all too often missed, however; this tends to leave them marginalised – especially in disadvantaged families, where their positive input can bring the greatest benefit.

What needs to happen

We need early years services and schools to actively reach out to fathers, challenging and supporting them to help their children learn and develop. This requires leadership and gender-sensitive thinking from organisations which understand fathers’ significance to their children and value gender diversity within their own workforces.


Practitioners need the knowledge, skills and experience to innovate, be reflective and build father-inclusion into their everyday practice.

Key actions

We were Co-investigators on the ESRC-funded PIECE (Paternal Involvement and its Impact on Children’s Education) study, led by Dr Helen Norman at Leeds University Business School, which strengthened the evidence base about the impact of fathers’ involvement in early childcare on their children’s attainment at school. We launched the final report and resources for practitioners and families with presentations and a panel discussion, at a webinar introduced by Andrew Gwynne MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fatherhood, in September 2023

We’re members of the Early Education and Childcare Coalition – a cross-sector collaboration working for an early education and childcare sector that delivers for children, parents, the workforce and the economy

We sat on the Fawcett Society’s Commission on Gender Stereotypes in Early Childhood, whose report Unlimited Potential was published in 2020

We offer training for schools and early years providers to equip them with the knowledge and tools to run FRED (Fathers Reading Every Day): a four-week programme designed to support fathers as learning supporters for their children 

We're running a four-year trial of FRED in the London Borough of Lambeth (funded by Mercers), working in a variety of settings to test the programme's impact on children, fathers, and early years practitioners over the short and medium term

Our MITEY (Men In The Early Years) campaign advocates for greater gender diversity in the UK early years education sector, and provides evidence-based resources and training opportunities for early years organisations wishing to improve their recruitment and retention of male staff. It builds on learning from the ESRC-funded GenderEYE (Gender Diversification in Early Years Education) study, which we co-developed with the Lancaster University School of Education

How you can help

Commission us to deliver a webinar or training at your workplace

Make a donation to support our ongoing policy work

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