Name – Charlie Parker 

Age – 22

Location – Crowland, Lincolnshire

Current Job: Pre-School Room Supervisor and Forest School Leader

Have you always wanted to work in Early Years?

No. I was coming to the end of Secondary School and had no real feeling of what I wanted to do career wise. This was when I had a discussion with my mum about what could be my options. My Nan had been a nursery nurse for 30 years and my mum also had worked in the same nursery. I remember spending a lot of time in the environment of a nursery and it felt quite natural to me. 

This is when I started to help out in Tumbletots one day a week after school, supporting a physical play programme with 4-5 year olds. 

What was your route in?

One day a week didn’t really seem enough for me so I decided to visit a nursery setting in Stamford, Lincolnshire which was a Montessori Pre-school – I was intrigued by the Montessori Method and wanted to get a greater understanding of it. 

Here I began my Level 2 Diploma in Children and Young People’s Workforce – this was an apprenticeship so I was able to learn on the job, which I have found a lot more valuable than I think a full time course would have been.

At this time I was only 16 so couldn’t be counted in the nursery ratios, I then decided to volunteer for the 5 months until I turned 17. Once my Level 2 was complete I moved straight onto my Level 3 Early Years Educator Qualification, still in the same setting. I became a valued member of the team and moved into the Montessori Room working along side the Montessori Teacher.

I was then approached to complete my Forest School Leader training, which was very exciting and great for my professional development – the course was a year long. Once I’d done that, I was then able to join in with Forest School sessions with the children. I spent four years at this setting in total. 

I then chose to move to a new setting, still in Stamford, where I began as Deputy Forest School Leader and then stepped up as Pre- School Room supervisor and Forest School Leader. That’s where I am to this day.

What’s the best part of the job?

The best part of my job is knowing that each day will be different, the children that I work with are able to learn something new each day. 

I promote a love for the outdoors as part of my Forest School Leader role and see all of the children develop in their own individual way. 

What are the drawbacks?

As much as it may have been said lots of times the drawback in my job is that Early Years practitioners don’t get paid enough for what we do and unfortunately people that aren’t in this sector don’t realise how important our job is for children’s early years, as they are fundamentally the most important years in childhood.

Has your age been an issue?

In my experience it’s been a benefit. Age can sometimes impact on working in Early Years mainly because of how active people are and if you are a bit fitter then you may tend to find the job a bit more enjoyable, especially as you’re constantly up and down off the floor when it comes to children! 

Would it have been easier for you if there were more men in Early Years?

I have only ever worked with women so it could would be hard to say whether it would be easier to work with men, however I definitely feel that there is need for more men in early years.

Have you felt under particular pressure as a man in Early Years?

In some ways yes, I do think my role in early years is important and I think I do have some pressure to stay in my role, mainly because of the relatively few males in this industry. I think it does make me a role model and I hope that in the near future more men are able to have a passion for this work.

What sort of reaction have you had from colleagues or parents?

I have received comments from both colleagues and parents saying that it is so valuable having me in the setting and that the children have made great relationships with myself. 

What would you say to any man considering a career in Early Years?

Being a part of a little person’s first years of life is so valuable and you can play a massive part in that.