Stephen found his teaching career path as a 5 year old with the teddies in rows pretending to take the register. His choice was made and he was ready to take on the challenges ahead.
Stephen has learnt that gender is a barrier for all and very often it stops people finding themselves. His first barrier was to be a male, teaching infants, the second was teaching in Foundation Stage and his third barrier was adopting children as a single dad. These barriers were created by educated professionals who wanted to pigeon-hole the middle-aged female in Foundation while putting the male in Year 6; the social worker that never thought a single male parent could adopt children because it had never been considered before; the charity manager that couldn’t give a male a job to support families with under 5’s because how can a man relate to families with young children?; the careers teacher who asked ‘How do you do it? What happens if they need their nose wiping?; The Nursery Nurse who told a parent that her child should feel unsettled because he’s a man you know; the taxi driver who said that a man on his own couldn’t possibly parent children because his kids would be out of control; the staff comments such as ‘what do you expect from a man? Typical man, men can’t’; the parents meeting from the old OFSTED where the only complaint that the parents expressed was that he’s a man and he cares. These are some example of many that made Stephen very interested in the Gender Respect project.
If we can challenge these statements about both men and women then children will have a greater respect for each other. Working with his colleagues in nursery, the children and parents see a relationship of mutual respect. Boys see that men can do the things that other people say they can’t such as caring and understanding. Girls get to see that men are not just authoritarian ogres but people like themselves.
Stephen would like to see a society that truly looks for the person not the gender. He would like to see equal numbers of politicians, directors and leaders; men and women working together rather than against each other.
Stephen works in Foundation 1 (3 year olds) in a nursery attached to a larger than average-sized primary school in Barnsley. The large majority of pupils are White British with an above average number of pupils eligible for free school meals.
To read Stephen’s blog, click HERE.