by Conor Bathgate

My Early Years Journey

My Early Years Journey - Conor

Conor’s journey with Bright Horizons started in 2009 when he joined as an apprentice. While studying towards his Level 3 childcare qualification, he soon realized that early years was the right career path for him. He describes the importance of positive male role models and what impact he can make on the wider world around him.

Initially, I didn't have plans to work in the early years sector. Like many men, I fell into the sector by accident. I took on an apprenticeship with the intention of gaining some experience of working with children before going to university.

I was lucky enough to have some amazing role models and tutors who taught the course and helped me to recognise the impact we can make on young children's development and the influence I could have on the wider world around me.

I believe working with children is a privilege. It's important not lose sight of that.Each day is unique and brings a new challenge with it.

My Career Path

I currently work as a Field Manager. Leading up to this role, I have worked as a nursery practitioner, deputy manager, and nursery manager. I received plenty of support while I studied my BA in Educational Psychology, and my MSc in Educational Psychology.

My current role is dynamic, and blends elements of my Early Years’ experience  with leadership development and coaching. I am always amazed when I see the impact the early years practitioners make when supporting children to reach their developmental milestones. For a child, something as simple as an activity related to the beach is a new experience.

Seeing the awe and wonder in the children’s eyes is what makes this job so special. I feel like I’m being part of something bigger and can help to shape their futures.

My advice to men considering childcare as a career

Men represent less than 3% of the early years sector. This is something that concerns me, as positive male role models are important for children, especially when you consider that men make up 49% of the UK population. It would be fair to say that, for a child spending up to 50 hours a week in nursery, the lack of exposure to positive male role models during this time could be a missed opportunity for their own understanding of the world.

So, if you are a male considering working in the early years sector, my biggest advice to you would be to try to ignore the stigma that men face in the sector. Reach out to other men working in early years on networking sites such as LinkedIn for more support and advice. We need more men to join the sector and help to contribute to the conversation about the gender imbalance or typical stereotypes.

Be brave and experience the sector. You may be like me, finding a career and a future for yourself in an unexpected place.

To read more from our male colleagues click here: My Professional Development Journey by Ben Howarth

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