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Childcare and Parenting
Would you employ a 'manny'? Jane Utting looks at men in childcare and talks to Mark Shepherd, a successful childminder.
Although men make up only 1.9% of registered childminders in England and Wales, their numbers have more than doubled in the past five years to just under 1,000.
It seems the rich and famous have been blazing a trail with male child-carers. Norland, the crème-de-la-crème of childcare colleges, has recruited male nannies since 2002. And pop star Britney Spears and actress Angelina Jolie have both been spotted out and about with ‘mannies’.
British nanny agencies admit an episode of Friends – in which Rachel employs a male nanny to look after baby Emma - increased demand.
Choosing childcare is one of the most important decisions you make as a parent, whether you opt for a registered childminder, nanny or nursery. Despite a Government target of 6%, only 1-2% of adults working in the total early years sector are male.
Fathers might be more hands-on in the home these days, but it seems they don’t see childcare as a career. Department for Education and Skills figures reveal that only 15.7% of primary school teachers in England are male. Yet according to a Mori poll in 2003, 77% of people questioned were in favour of men working in childcare, with 71% saying more men should be employed.
Mark Shepherd (pictured), a childminder from New Cross, south-east London, has been a registered childminder since March 2000.
Initially Mark was a house-husband for Esme, now nine, and six-year-old Eli, but after taking a diploma in Childhood Studies at Lewisham College (“purely to see how my own children ticked”), he realised childcare would make an excellent career.
“Right from when my daughter was small I’d find that everywhere we went, children used to gravitate towards me,” he laughs. “On one holiday we must have had nearly every child on the beach around us!”
His diploma involved 800 hours of placements in different settings - private homes, nurseries and schools. “Everywhere I went I had great feedback, so when I started as a childminder I had no fear or apprehension,” he explains. “I’ve never been teased by my mates – nowadays the atmosphere towards men working with children is just different.”
Any adult over 16 living in the same house as a childminder has to be registered and have an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check, so men often follow their partners into the job. Childminders also have to have their homes inspected, hold a valid first-aid certificate and public liability insurance, and have taken an introductory training course.
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National Childminding Week, June 17-24