Craig, Jay and Shad from the leadership team were invited to take part in the second (inter?)-national Men In The Early Years conference, aiming to develop the discussion from David Wright's Southampton conference the previous year.
This time it was Bradford's turn to host the event and with over 100 delegates in attendance, it promised to be a positive day ahead.
The day begin with keynotes from Jonathan Douglas of the National Literacy Trust, Shahid Islam, Research Fellow at Better Start Bradford, and finally both Dr. Jo Warin, Senior Lecturer in Educational Research at Lancaster University and Yuwei Xu, Lecturer in Children and Family Studies at Portsmouth University speaking about the gender flexible Early Years practitioner.
The work done by Better Start Bradford in trying to engage fathers from their local community felt really valuable and offered a template for other settings to build upon.
We were please to see one of our own, Oscar, featured during Jo's presentation on gender flexible practices!
Following on from the morning keynotes, we broke out into our workshops. Shad attended 'Engaging and supporting young men who are fathers' faciliated by Dr Esmée Hanna at Leeds Beckitt University. Accompanied by two inspirational young fathers, we discussed her Supporting Young Dads project - Funded by a Leeds Beckett University Early Careers Fellowship. This project explored the use and value of community groups for supporting and impacting positively on young men who are fathers.
Jay, meanwhile, attend a workshop led by Jeremy Davis from the Fatherhood Institute (FHI) (Link?) - A great Dad for every Child. The FHI has been going since the 90's and is well respected in the field with a lot of research available and ongoing. They also run their own projects and audit Children's services on how they engage dads, and are building on their already strong data base on why this matters. They are child focused - improving outcomes for kids. They created the Men In The Early Years (#MITEY) campaign as a way to promote and hit at all levels from Government to providers, parents, children and the public.
It was a discussion based workshop that highlighted that only 22% of families in the UK have a working Dad and stay at home Mum even though culturally this is still what we consider to be the norm. Also looked at hormone levels within in men who are with a pregnant partner and are around after the birth.
Conclusions from Jay's workshop were that gender sensitivity training is needed. It is important to break down power relationships that exist in schools and promote that care and education are integral to each other. Open discussions are needed around allegations, fears of being falsely accused prevent men, include this in relation to safeguarding in training courses.
Following lunch, it was time for another round of keynotes, this time hosted by Jason Vit, Literacy Hubs Manager at the National Literacy Trust. We heard from Anne-Marie Merifield, Executive Headteacher, St Edmund's Nursery School and Children's Centre speaking about recruiting and retaining men in the Early Years workforce. Anne-Marie also discussed their new upcoming project, 50 things to do before 5 which we wish every success.
Dr. Annette discussed the need to reflect on 'educational care' not just learning for children, the need for collegial solidarity and offered her perpective on men in the EY in Sweden.
Finally it was the turn on BMIEY to deliver their workshop on what's needed to set up your own local group. From funding and the practicalities of running a network, through to our outreach work and raising awareness in your area, we aimed to cover why these networks are necessary and what impact can they have.
Finally, the day drew to an end with a panel and closing remarks from our keynotes throughout the day. Some difficult questions on the affect 30 hour free education will have on recruitment, whether or noy society is ready for a gender flexible approach and finally, Brexit!
Thanks goes to the team at Bradford who put together a rewarding day. We valued the opportunity to present our workshop and hope to have inspired those thinking of creating their own network.
We look forward to welcoming everyone in Bristol for #MITEY18!