The Department for Education has issued a clear statement to early years settings, that they should not give in to parents’ requests for male practitioners to be excluded from providing intimate care to their young children.
Speaking at the 4th National MITEY Conference in London on 4 September, Susie Owen, Deputy Director of Early Years at the Department for Education, said:
“We know that parents are generally happy for men to work with their children, however we also know that some parents can object to men looking after their children, particularly very young children. We know in this sector that there is nothing more important than safeguarding, and safeguarding is the core of the EYFS document. Where there are concerns about a child or allegations made about any member of your staff, we stipulate that your safeguarding policies and procedures must include an explanation of what action will be taken when there are safeguarding concerns, and that should be happening everywhere.
However if you are required to respond to objections about a member of staff based purely on their gender then you should respectfully but confidently highlight your policies and procedures for safeguarding children, and be clear that you cannot pick and choose who undertakes different activities based on their gender, any more than you can choose based on a person’s age, race, sexuality, faith or any other protected characteristic (our underlined text).
We want you to all feel confident that you can do that, and we can bust those myths and really challenge those misconceptions where they appear. In addition obviously to highlighting your safeguarding policy you can hopefully encourage anybody with those kinds of negative or biased views, to be more knowledgeable and increase their awareness about men in the early years to help change their minds. Setting out the benefits of having male workers in your setting, setting out how your setting supports and promotes diversity in all its forms, displaying the MITEY resources on your walls and finding opportunities for parents to meet your staff and get to know how great they are.”
The MITEY campaign will be running an online support session for managers on this issue, and will publish a guide to communicating with parents, later this year. To receive email notifications about these, sign up to the MITEY campaign.