Universal ECEC is not “Boys Vs. Girls”

An interesting article from Lucy Powell in The Guardian UK on the failure of the UK Government to invest in their childcare sector. It makes some good points, particularly the evidence that the huge investment required to truly have universal access for all children would be of long-term benefit to the country.

It’s time for government to stop tinkering and take childcare seriously. We see business case after business case for boys’ toys like planes and trains – high-speed rail and airport expansion. Government should develop the case for childcare as a key economic driver to get women – and it is still mainly women – back into work and earning their full potential to benefit not only families but also the country.

The case for free universal childcare should be seriously explored. The IPPR has shown that universal childcare – 25 hours of free childcare for children from one to four – would pay a return to the Exchequer of £20,050 over four years in terms of tax revenue minus the cost of childcare for every woman who returns to work full time after a year of maternity leave. Childcare investment would not only get our economy moving, it would also help the development of young children and begin to level the playing field between poorer children and their peers when they start school.

Powell does unfortunately couch the article primarily in terms of economic outcomes – the needs of children are only lightly touched on. I also question the reducing of traditional infrastructure investment as “boy’s toys” – quality infrastructure is also vital in lifting families out of vulnerable circumstances.

It serves no-one to reduce the argument to “Boys Vs. Girls”, or infrastructure vs. childcare. Investment is needed in both, and universal access to early education and care would significantly redress the gender imbalances in families that Powell rightly points out still exists.

Advertisements

Overcoming prejudice as a male educator in ECEC

Being the only man on this female dominated course and the butt of the teachers’ jokes was hard in the beginning. “I cried every evening for the first few weeks. I had a good friend there who helped get me through it but I spent a lot of time crying into my pillow at home,” [John Warren] admits.

This did happen many years ago and he says “things have improved since I started out but men still encounter prejudice” and men are still very much a minority in childcare as only two per cent of the early years workforce is male and this statistic has remained steady in the past decade, despite national and local recruitment campaigns aimed at men.

Sue Learner, daynurseries.co.uk (7/3/2013)

I am lucky to have had a mostly positive experience (with a few exceptions) as a male early childhood educator in Australia. But the numbers are still low in Australia, and I have heard a lot of my male colleagues still suffering similar prejudice and suspicion.

This will continue to be a major challenge for the sector until a coordinated and holistic approach to recruiting male educators is implemented.