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Minister calls on more men to work in nurseries

Shirley-Anne Somerville
Shirley-Anne Somerville

The need to recruit more men into childcare was highlighted as a Scottish Government minister opened a newly refurbished nursery yesterday.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, Minister for Further and Higher Education and Science, was at Argyll College’s Little Learner’s Nursery at Dunstaffnage, near Oban.

A refurbishment of the 32-place nursery, which has a three year waiting list, has recently been completed.

Little Learner’s was crowned Best Independent Nursery in Scotland in 2015.

As Mrs Somerville cut the ribbon to officially reopen the nursery, Kathleen McNiven, nursery manager, showed her round. She said: “We do find it difficult at times to get staff and to get quality staff.”

The minister said: “We need to do more to increase opportunities. There is enormous potential here, whether it is people leaving school or people looking for a career change.

“We often talk about under representation of females in certain streams, but we also have a job to encourage more men to get into childcare and primary teaching.

“It is really important we look at that. We are increasing the amount of childcare provision in early years. We need to diversify the workforce.”

Nursery senior practitioner, Sean Cooke, completed an NC in early education and childcare with Argyll College UHI before moving on to study an HNC in Glasgow. He recently returned home to Oban after working in Ayrshire as a youth activities co-ordinator.

Mr Cooke said: “One of the most inspiring things about Little Learner’s is the amount of outdoor learning the children receive, spending part of every day exploring outside either on the beach, discovering our ‘Gruffalo-land’ in the forest or playing in Dunstaffnage Castle – it’s just a wonderful way to learn and develop their imaginations.”

The centre also provides work placements for the Argyll College’s childcare students – some of whom go on to full time employment at Little Learner’s, getting the benefits of the living wage, a generous pension scheme and professional development opportunities through the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Mrs Somerville added: “I am delighted to officially reopen the Little Learner’s Nursery. The nursery already has a great reputation, which I’m sure it will cement further as a result of these refurbishments.”

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