‘Man’-ager at Bersted Nursery

‘Man’-ager at Bersted Nursery

20th March 2019

Although progress has been made, there is no disputing the fact that the childcare industry has been dominated by females at all levels and career paths for its entire history. In fact, men still only make up just 2%* of the workforce in childcare across the UK.

With International Women’s Day approaching, First Steps Childcare (based at Chichester College, Brinsbury and Bersted) are boldly celebrating their new, male, nursery manager at their Bersted nursery. Ashley Hopkins, who obtained his childcare qualifications from Crawley College (in partnership with Chichester College), brings with him a wealth of experience in the childcare sector and is passionate about making a positive impact in his new setting.

Since starting at First Steps I’ve already started to feel like part of a community – building relationships with the children and families but also colleagues and other professionals in the sector. Being a nursery manager is obviously a very important role but being a male within Early Years is relatively rare so to be appointed as manager fills me with pride.

I love my job; no two days are the same, one morning I will be out in the garden engaged in role play while in the afternoon I could be showing around prospective families. I attend our wonderful ‘Forest School’ with our pre-school age children weekly, allowing me to share in the love for the outdoors with them, using the natural environment as a fantastic learning experience.

I’ve received lovely feedback from parents over the years but it’s true that people have mentioned to me what a shame it is that there is such a lack of males within the early year’s sector. This is what makes me proud to be doing what I do, thirteen years working in early years and I’ve never looked back.” – Ashley Hopkins, Childcare Manager (Bersted)

Ashley is not the only male that First Steps Childcare can celebrate. In fact, the group are now lucky enough to proudly boast one male employee at each of their three nursery settings. Connor Bowley – Childcare Assistant at the Brinsbury nursery has worked in childcare for 7 years. “I’ve had mixed reactions from parents about me being in post, mostly positive but I have on the odd occasion received specific questions about my duties that I suspect my female colleagues have not. My favourite thing about working in childcare is the children, of course! They make us all laugh because they’re always coming out with something new. (At one point they decided to call me Christoph, I still don’t know where that came from but it went on for a year and a half!) There’s something very special about the bonds that we as a childcare team create with each child and it’s really rewarding to watch them evolve and grow”. Connor dreams of being prime minister one day, but before pursuing that he would like to reach ‘Room Leader’ status within childcare.

Finally Ben Taylor – Childcare Apprentice, completes the team at First Steps Chichester. “It’s funny how many of my friends have been genuinely surprised when I’ve told them I work in childcare – even some parents are (pleasantly) surprised to see me when they visit the setting. When I first changed career pathways my own Mum was aghast and asked me if I was 100% sure that childcare was the right choice for me, but 2½ years later, I have absolutely no regrets.”. Ben aspires to move into childcare management one day but in the meantime would like to simply gain as much experience as he can learning from the “supportive and welcoming team” around him.

“I am very proud that First Steps is championing and supporting careers for men (and women) in childcare. Ashley, Connor and Ben are highly valued members of the team and are great role models for other men thinking of working in the sector. I was especially honoured when Connor invited me as his guest to his apprenticeship graduation ceremony in 2018. It is also inspiring to see Ashley’s personal journey and commitment from a student at one of our Colleges to now managing a successful nursery setting. I would encourage anyone who is interested in beginning or furthering their career in childcare to get in touch with us.”- Julie Kapsalis, Group Managing Director (Chichester College Group)

Unquestionably, the industry needs more men with 84%* of parents saying they want to see childcare settings employing male workers. First Steps actively encourages applications from anybody interested in working in the childcare sector, regardless of gender.








(*Men working in early year’s settings – parenta.com)