Men in Early Learning and Childcare

Everyone, meet Kieran Gallagher.  Kieran is the Out-of-School Team Leader at North Edinburgh Childcare and he is currently studying his Level 9 Childhood Practice with us, training to the level of Manager.

Did you know he is one of the surprisingly small 4% of male workers in the Early Learning and Child Care (ELC) profession?  (I know, shocking! There are more pets in ELC settings.  Actually, I don’t know that for sure but I reckon there is.)

The Scottish Government have recently awarded grants to support the increase of males into the workforce.  For some men the first hurdle is challenging the stigma that still surrounds the idea of men working in ELC.  For others it may be not knowing where to start.

We are lucky enough to have a few men on our courses and some working in our department here at Edinburgh College who want to share their stories with you.  If you are or know someone who could do with some tips on moving into this profession then please share this blog, drag them over to this computer screen, encourage, support and nudge them this way.

Jacqueline Vural, one of our Curriculum Leaders, carried out a brief interview with Kieran to find out about his journey into ELC.

How did you get into childcare?

I started working as a volunteer at a holiday club with Edinburgh Leisure and really enjoyed it so I applied for a job as a childcare practitioner with North Edinburgh Childcare. I was successful and have stayed with the organisation working my way up as a senior practitioner and then team leader.

What’s the best thing for you about working with children and young people?

Interacting with the children, offering them opportunities to take part in different activities, seeing changes in behaviour and the development of children, supporting local families who are experiencing challenges.

Do you think there are any barriers to men working in childcare?

I’ve never faced any. Some parents may question men working with children but we can challenge these views and discuss the benefits. Often settings are mostly female staff but now there are increasingly more men.

Do you have any advice for men interested in working with children and young people?

Don’t feel you need to be good at everything – everyone has skills they can use to support children. This can be in things like arts and crafts but also in things like sports, outdoor activities and languages. You need to have good communication skills – to talk and listen to children and colleagues. And also to be good at teamwork as this is an important part of supporting children effectively.

What kind of career options are there in the sector?

There are lots of possibilities to be a practitioner and also to progress to senior and manager roles. However you need to be prepared to do training and qualifications. There are a range of different jobs – in early learning, out of school care, outdoor settings, playgroups, activity clubs and schools.

Men in Childcare course

Kieran has noticed that there are increasingly more men (hurray!) and was lucky enough to feel confident in applying for a Practitioner post straight away but for those who would like to have a bit of background knowledge before they start it would be worthwhile looking into what we offer here at the college.

We have always worked hard to bring men into the workforce, running a Level 5 ‘Men In Childcare’ course for several years now.  Designed to ease the transition into what is predominantly a female work force, many men have found this to be a useful stepping stone and confidence builder.  From here, students can progress onto other suitable level courses at Level 6 and 7 and some stay with us right through to Level 9.  If you would like to know more information, please contact

For those of you who are just generally interested in joining us, our full time courses are currently open for applications, part time will open in March.  Further info can be found on the course page.

Keep an eye out for our next ‘Men in Childcare’ profile and follow our Twitter @EC_Childhood for updates, news and ELC developments.

With childcare becoming an increasingly in-demand career in Edinburgh and the Lothians, our in-house childcare expert, Clarissa, is writing a series of blogs to show you how important a career in childcare is and why you should be getting yourself, or loved ones, interested.