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Extra pay needed to coax more men into early years

Campaigners call for better deal to boost ranks of male workers

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Better pay and conditions are the key to attracting more men into early years, according to the campaigning charity the Daycare Trust.

About two in every 100 workers in early years are men, and this week the Children's Workforce Development Council urged more men to consider swapping their in-trays for sand trays.

The development council, which is responsible for recruitment in early- years education, said 55 per cent of parents wanted a male childcare worker for their nursery-aged children.

But there have been recruitment campaigns before.

A previous target by government to raise the number of men working in early years from 2 per cent in 1998 to 6 per cent by 2004 was not achieved.

Thom Crabbe, national development manager for early years at the development council, said there was no similar target now. The aim was to improve the situation, he said.

The paucity of men in early years is attributed to the work's low status and the high proportion of women working in the sector - the two factors are linked.

A report by the Trades Union Congress and the Daycare Trust, published in 2007, found that average pay in the maintained sector ranged from Pounds 19.60 per hour for early-years teachers to Pounds 8.70 for "other paid early-years support staff".

Statistics from the General Teaching Council published last year revealed that there are currently just 56 male teachers working in state nurseries, and no registered male teachers under 25 working in the nursery school sector at all.

Joe Caluori of the Daycare Trust said: "Increasing pay and conditions is essential to attract men and women into childcare.

"There could be many more men working in childcare than there are. In Norway, there are four times as many.

"Maybe many men consider it but are deterred by pay and conditions as well as negative social or peer-group pressures."

Marlon Folkes, 31, an NVQ level-3 early-years educator at Mary Paterson Nursery School in Paddington, west London, went into childcare after working part-time on the checkouts at a supermarket and at Westminster Play Centre service.

But he said pay wasn't the only reason for working in early years; job satisfaction also played a part.

"I grew up in a large family and have always had children around," he said.

"I interact well with children and thought maybe this is my calling. When I was at school, I didn't have a clear vision of what I wanted to be, but I always said to friends I'd never be a teacher - that I'd not work in a school.

"But when you get older you get a different outlook on life. I want to be a positive male role model. For me, money isn't everything. Job satisfaction comes before money.

"In every walk of life, people would never mind earning Pounds 5,000 or Pounds 6,000 more, but at the end of the day I'd rather have job satisfaction than another job which pays more but doesn't make me happy."

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