Ca­reer path still rare one


Henare Gur­ney is a scarce na­tional re­source.

In a pro­fes­sion where men are in­creas­ingly rare at all lev­els, he is one of the 2 per cent of men teach­ing in New Zealand’s preschools, ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion.

Fig­ures re­leased ear­lier this month show the num­ber of male teach­ers has con­tin­ued to drop dur­ing the past 10 years. In 2013, men made up 41.2 per cent of teach­ers at sec­ondary schools and only 16.5 per cent at pri­mary schools.

Few of Toko­roa’s early child­hood cen­tres have had reg­u­lar qual­i­fied male staff.

Gur­ney, who is now work­ing as a pro­fes­sional leader in the cen­tral North Is­land, re­mem­bers be­ing one of only four men in his 1997 early child­hood learn­ing class of 70 – and one of only two who passed the course.

‘‘His­tor­i­cally this has been a fe­male-dom­i­nated work­place and that has put many men off try­ing it out.’’

He said the gen­der im­bal­ance helped cre­ated the stigma that it is not such a ‘‘mas­cu­line’’ role.

‘‘I was quite lucky in that I my­self had some male role mod­els who had an ed­u­ca­tion view that men could do it so I per­son­ally didn’t see it as be­ing fe­males-only.

‘‘I did sur­prise a num­ber of [rugby] team­mates who said ‘oh you’re go­ing to learn about early child­hood? Isn’t that for fe­males?’ ’’

Times are slowly chang­ing, he said, but that is

Henare Gur­ney is a rare breed in the world of early child­hood learn­ing. still to be felt in the South Waikato. In 2013, the lat­est statis­tics gath­ered, the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion recorded no male ECE teach­ers in the South Waikato.

Men seemed to be more pre­dom­i­nant in pri­mary schools with 28 and sec­ondary/com­pos­ite schools with 69. There were 165 fe­male pri­mary and 108 fe­male sec­ondary/com­pos­ite teach­ers.

Roz McDon­ald, Cen­tral Kids Toko­roa Early Learn­ing Cen­tre man­ager, said she thinks it is im­por­tant that chil­dren have a bal­ance of both women and men grow­ing up.

‘‘For me it’s more real life... and men and women are slightly dif­fer­ent so they bring dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives.’’

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