Paul Archibald is celebrating his tenth year working at Highland Fling Childcare in Portobello.
He is one of eight men out of a staff of 24 who play important roles in the development of the children in their care. That’s why Paul and his colleagues are supporting a new fund aimed at encouraging more men into the childcare profession.
Launched this week by the Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd, the new fund will invite colleges to increase the number of men enrolling on courses that will lead to a career in early learning and childcare.
The colleges will have the opportunity to bid for two funding awards to run pilot projects which support increasing male numbers.
Mr Archibald, 38, who is the manager and health and wellbeing specialist at the busy nursery told the Evening News: “Around a third of our staff is male which is not the sector norm. It may help that senior staff members are male.
“We don’t recruit specifically based on gender, we make sure that we bring in the best person for the job.”
He believes that more men are entering the profession, thanks to changing family set-ups and the lessening of previous stigma surrounding men working with children.
He said: “Every parent who has come in has said ‘what a relief, this is a natural environment’.
“Nursery has to be a home from home so coming into an environment where there are men and women, you’re creating a kind of family.
“We have every conceivable type of family at the nursery.”
Training as a PE teacher meant that Mr Archibald was “not bothered” by any negative perceptions. He said: “People may have an opinion but at the end of the day you might get one person who thinks it’s a bit strange but you’ll get another 100 people who think it’s perfectly normal.
“I think it’s great to invest in bringing more men into the profession. I think in three to four years the stigma will be gone.”
Maree Todd said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for colleges to test out new ways of getting men into the early learning and childcare workforce. Increasing the number of men in childcare means children will benefit from different perspectives and have more male role models to look up to.
“I’m delighted to have seen first-hand today the difference a diverse workforce can have on our children’s learning, bringing new ideas and approaches to learning and play.
“Our expansion of funded early learning and childcare will create thousands of high quality and well-paid jobs across Scotland.”