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.’’