It is common knowledge in the UK that hiring more male teachers and early years practitioners in nurseries and schools brings several benefits to the overall quality of teaching.
Additionally, by including more men into the childcare and education sector, early years settings and schools can contribute to many societal benefits. These include:
- Tackling gender stereotyping about men’s suitability to care for and educate young children.
- Getting to grips with the unemployment crisis within nurseries and schools.
- Enhancing unbiased, high standards of teaching, where children see both men and women as educational figures.
- Supporting men’s professional ambitions in careers that were previously not accessible to them.
Nurseries and schools are increasingly looking to attract more male teachers and early years practitioners to their settings. For this reason, we have put together a useful guide with 20 top tips to make your setting more male-inclusive, and therefore attractive to potential male recruits.
1. Getting rid of stereotyped gender roles
It is typically believed that men and women are fundamentally different when it comes to look after and educate children. Women are cast as more natural at caregiving, whilst men offer a different approach to teaching, which often translates as men being better at rough and tumble, great at outdoors play and acting as role models for the children who grow up without a father figure.
This can be problematic in several ways, because there is no evidence that women are naturally better at caregiving. Moreover, only a small percentage of disadvantaged families using children’s centres experience the complete absence of a paternal role.
Nursery managers and headteachers can help getting rid of stereotyped gender roles by adopting appropriate policies and procedures in relation to equal opportunities and duties within the educational setting.
For instance, there should be a clear policy stating that nappy changing duties must not be discriminatory, and both male and female staff within the setting are responsible for ensuring children’s toileting needs are met.
Additionally, male teaching staff should not be sent to the Pre-School classroom under the presumption that they will not be able to provide nurturing care for babies and toddlers, unless they have explicitly expressed an interest in working with older children.
Similarly, physical activities and outdoor play should not be assigned to male staff, solely based on their gender and the stereotypes behind it.
2. Installing gender-neutral bathrooms
A nursery or school that has gender-neutral bathrooms for their staff members fosters an inclusive environment that shows that the setting cares about diversity.
Installing gender-neutral bathrooms helps your setting communicate its values when it comes to inclusion and treating staff members in an equal way.
Moreover, having gender-neutral bathrooms demonstrates that a nursery or school doesn’t just tolerate staff’s differences, but affirms them. It will show that the setting is accommodating to its employees’ needs, proving to have an understanding environment and making it more attractive to male candidates
3. Showcasing your commitment to gender-inclusion to current and prospective parents
There is a long-standing sense of cultural and societal discomfort, and therefore parental nervousness, around men who decide to seek employment in a traditionally female dominated profession.
These concerns express themselves as surprise and astonishment at their presence, scepticism in their capabilities to perform the task as well as a female and even distrust at their motivations for wanting to work with young children.
Standing up for the male teachers who work at your setting demonstrates your commitment to male-inclusivity in the workplace. Not only will you educate parents on how male teachers and early years practitioners positively impact their children’s learning, but you will also prove yourself as an inclusive employer to your male teaching staff, and any prospective candidate.
4. Including a male-inclusivity statement in your job ads
A male-inclusivity statement is a great starting point for nurseries and schools seeking to diversify the gender of their teaching staff team. Including a male-inclusivity statement in your job ad will improve the experience of both potential candidates and customers.
A male-inclusivity statement demonstrates your setting’s commitment to building an inclusive, varied workplace that welcomes people of all genders. Much like a mission and values statement, the male-inclusivity statement is, ideally, more than just a marketing exercise. It should guide your hiring, employee benefits, customer service and workplace culture.
An outstanding statement triangulates with your setting’s mission, vision and values. Here is an example of how you could word your male-inclusivity statement:
“At Male Childcare and Teaching Jobs, gender equality is a core value. We believe that nurseries and schools can be powerful settings for social change and that our higher purpose is to drive gender equality for all. Creating a culture of male-inclusivity within our staff team isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also a beneficial thing for our children. Diverse settings like us are more innovative and better positioned to have the children in their care succeed. We strive to create a workplace that reflects the communities we serve, where everyone feels empowered to bring their full authentic selves to work. There is more work to be done, but with the help of our gender inclusion commitment, our employees and families can achieve their full potential.”
5. Advertising on male-inclusive jobs boards
Many organisations are seeking to make their workplace more diverse. Diversity of thought in management and work culture has an impact on a company’s tendency toward innovation and creative decision making, which affects the bottom line. For this reason, many businesses are turning to diversity jobs boards to find a diverse talent pool.
Our jobs board focuses on recruiting specific demographics:
- Established male teachers and early years practitioners who are looking for a new challenge.
- Male students and graduates who are planning to start a career in childcare and education.
- Older men who are looking to retrain and become teachers and early years practitioners.
6. Replacing feminised job titles, like "Nursery Nurse"
Could advertising your early years and teaching vacancies be discriminatory to men in the industry? The answer is: “It depends”.
A Guide to Recruiting Men into Early Years, funded by the Department for Education, indicates that the early years is the most affected sector within the education system, with the lowest numbers of male teaching staff in the UK.
This is partly because men are finding teaching roles being increasingly stereotyped and feminised by society. Male students and older workers who are potentially interested in starting a career in childcare and education are often put off the idea of applying for a vacancy in a school or nursery. By replacing feminised job titles such as “Nursery Nurse” with more gender-neutral terms can significantly affect the way potential male candidates apply for your job openings.
You could use job titles like:
- Nursery Practitioner
- Early Years Practitioner
- Early Years Educator
- Nursery Worker
- Early Years Worker
- Day-care Practitioner
- Childcare Practitioner
- Childcare Educator
7. Monitoring any sexist workplace banter
For some, workplace jesting is just harmless fun, but teasing remarks can easily cause offence.
Organisations often make the mistake of letting certain employees get away with bad behaviour because they cover a significant role within the nursery or school, make a lot of money for the company, or are considered “top talent” which are difficult to replace.
These people leave a trail of harassed employees in their wake. Offensive comments might be considered harassment according to the Equality Act 2010. For this reason, employers have the moral and legal responsibility to monitor any sexist workplace banter and take measures for those workers who are not respectful to male teachers and early years practitioners within their settings.
Some examples of unacceptable comments include references to:
- The presumption that male staff are not capable to carry out nappy changing duties.
- Male staff’s sexual orientation.
- The presumption that male staff should carry out physical duties, such as carrying heavy loads or building maintenance tasks.
- The assumption that male staff are more capable to deal with children’s violent and challenging behaviour than their female colleagues.
- The idea of male staff not being suitable to work with babies and toddlers.
8. Holding recruitment open days targeted at attracting male candidates
Recruitment open days are a fantastic way to connect with potential candidates, opening your doors purposefully to share your culture and allow potential male recruits to get a feel for the place.
You'll get a chance to showcase your recent work and current projects, giving prospective male teachers and early years practitioners an idea of what they might get involved with.
Not only will it be a great opportunity for you to make potential candidates aware of your vacancies and career opportunities, but you will also be able to showcase your commitment to male-inclusivity in the workplace.
Recruitment open days will also allow prospective male teachers and early years practitioners to get a real-life insight of your nursery or school. By interacting with staff who already work at your setting, potential male candidates will find out about why working at your setting is an enjoyable experience, and how your existing male teachers and early years practitioners are getting on working with you as an employer.
9. Showcasing your male teachers and early years practitioners’ achievements on social media
As a male-inclusive nursery or school, you will most likely have plenty of successes and milestones you’re proud of when it comes to diversifying the gender of your team. From landing your first male recruit to having one of your male practitioners completing their NVQ Level 3 in Childcare, there’s plenty to be excited about.
So why not share those successes on social media? Your social channels are a direct line to your potential candidates, and they’re a great opportunity to boost your branding by showcasing your gender-diversity achievements as an educational setting.
Here are some examples of milestones you could share on social media:
- Male staff appreciation events, such as birthday celebrations, thank you giveaways, etc.
- Male staff completing qualification courses and other trainings.
- Positive testimonials about male teachers and early years practitioners from parents and female staff.
- New male recruits, staff promotions and other updates on professional development.
- Male staff achievements within your nursery or school, such as an activity that stood out.
10. Promoting vacancies to male candidates via fathers who use your provision
Fathers who use your educational provision are a fantastic source of promotion for your vacancies. They might have male friends who are looking for a career change and considering teaching as a potential career path. Word of mouth is a valuable recruitment tool and parents that are aware of the vacancies in the setting can then pass information onto friends and family.
11. Providing gender diversity training for staff and free information packs for parents
When you make gender diversity training in the workplace a priority, your nursery or school reaps the benefits in more ways than one. You’ll create an inclusive environment that fosters innovation and ensures your setting will be popular with all demographics and thus boost your recruitment of male staff. With better team morale due to gender diversity, you’ll draw attention from top talent and grow your setting with the best possible people.
When all employees feel their voices are heard, they feel included. Employees who are happy at work are more productive, willing to take on more projects, and provide more feedback to their employers. When your employees are happy, it shows, and attracts more top talent to your company, especially the early years practitioners and male teachers that are hard to find.
12. Getting more dads involved in the school or nursery
With changing working patterns, there are more men available to take on the supportive roles in the classroom that have traditionally been the domain of mothers: hearing readers, working with groups and accompanying school trips to name a few.
The more dads or male carers get into school, the more likely they are to consider a career in primary education as a viable option. The TDA used to promote what they called Career Exploration, where individual schools make themselves available for people who are interested in a career in education to visit and have a taster of life in schools. Maybe your school could plan something similar and inspire to this scheme.
13. Signing up your male teachers and early years practitioners in nursery/school forums
To overcome the isolation that some men can sometimes feel when working in education, you could organise occasional informal meetings where men can discuss their work and share ideas about teaching with other male teachers and early years practitioners.
You could hold these meetings in a different school or nursery each time so that it becomes a real opportunity to share good practice for everyone.
14. Organising social events for male teachers and early years practitioners
This and the previous suggestion are about keeping men in schools once they have started. In secondary schools, male teachers have more access to a male-based social life if they choose. In primary schools and nurseries, this is less available. Occasional social events for men, particularly young men early in their careers and new to an area, may just be what it takes to keep them in teaching. People giving up teaching is just as big a problem as recruitment to initial teacher training.
15. Being mindful of staff room gender speak
According to new research from the Teacher Support Network (TSN), male teachers are feeling isolated in their profession.
While male teachers face similar problems to their female colleagues, such as work-related stress, workload, career development and relationships, male teachers also face specific issues.
Many primary school teachers tell us they are the only male in their schools, which makes them feel isolated and unable to talk to female colleagues about their problems
If men on the staff team are significantly out-numbered by women, being aware of discussions that take place during breaks can be a game changer.
Sometimes a man can feel excluded from certain subjects of conversation.
16. Working in partnership with universities and colleges
This is another area where you could work with your Local Education Authorities or local ITT college. If there is any form of career fair or degree fair taking place locally maybe a display or presentation from your school or nursery would help show the real perks that a job in teaching can offer.
The TDA has clearly been committed to attracting more men into primary schools and its initial work does seem to be reaping rewards. As the world of teaching is restructured and hopefully made more attractive, we could see more men working with young children. Individual schools and clusters of schools have a role to play in this too.
17. Widening recruitment in nurseries and schools
To attract men into childcare in large numbers, wages for childcare at entry level and beyond need to be equal to, or higher than, wages in other comparable-skill level occupations. Recruitment of men into childcare should not be limited to young men, but to men considering employment throughout the life cycle. Recruiting older men who have gained experience and confidence as fathers, stepfathers and grandfathers, as well as through other employment, should be considered.
Similarly, some men may have developed transferable skills that can be utilised in a nursery or school. For instance, somebody who has worked in Health and Safety in the past can significantly contribute to a nursery classroom, ensuring that children learn in a safe environment and acquire knowledge about risks safely.
18. Ongoing campaign to promote men in early years
Launching a campaign to promote the recruitment and retention of male teachers and early years practitioners will help spread information about the lack of men in education.
Whether they are on national, regional or local scale, ongoing campaigns can include dissemination of case studies, statistics, trends, news, outstanding practice, opinions and relevant research. Male Childcare and Teaching Jobs are currently campaigning to increase male representation in nurseries and school up to 40% by 2028.
Nurseries and schools can independently launch their own campaigns, as well join existing ones to communicate their interest and commitment to hire more men in education.
19. Establishing the best possible pay scales and career trajectories
Your nursery or school should establish the best possible pay scales and career trajectories in order to retain your best employees, give them a sense of purpose, but also attract more quality talent.
Creating an employee-centric culture will help you compete with other nurseries and schools, not only making you more attractive to prospective male teachers and early years practitioners, but also female teaching staff.
Defining job positions, identifying training needs and establishing salaries that are in line with what your competitors are offering will help you attract more quality talent.
Additionally, you can plan a career roadmap for each job description at your workplace and share it with your male candidates during job interviews. It should be front and centre, not an afterthought.
During onboarding, you could show examples of career paths for the position. If your nursery or school is large enough to have a dedicated career counsellor or HR department, that person should spend some time with each new hire in the first week or two. Ensuring that each new hire knows the possible roadmaps for their position is crucial for staff retention. They will begin employment knowing you will invest in their career progression.
20. Adopting a male-inclusion policy in your nursery or school
Adopting a male-inclusion policy in your nursery or school offers clear benefits for your workforce, such as resolving teaching staff shortages, greater innovation, enhanced marketing opportunities and a better image.
Nurseries and schools who have already adopted a male-inclusion policy cited the following aspects as representing the most benefits:
- The likelihood of attracting and retaining high quality male teachers and early years practitioners.
- External recognition and validation by achieving awards.
- Improved communication and information-sharing channels.
- Better managerial styles, skills and performance in areas such as communication, people management, goal setting and planning.
- Reduced staff turnover and absenteeism due to the creation of working environments that promote respect and inclusiveness.
Joining an organisation that actively campaigns for the recruitment and retention of male teachers and early years practitioners will help you attract more male candidates to your nursery or school.
At Male Childcare and Teaching Jobs, we aim to create the largest community of male teachers and early years practitioners in the UK.
You can join our organisation by creating a company profile today. It is time to start showcasing your commitment to male-inclusivity in the workplace!