A drive is under way to increase the number of men working in early years education, and for one former Borders College student, it’s a welcome plan to help eradicate stereotypes and boost gender diversity in childcare.
21-year-old Johnlee Elder is currently working as a Nursery Practitioner at Cherrytrees Nursery in Hawick following his successful completion of the HNC Childcare programme at @BordersCollege in 2021.
Despite some of the stereotypes that go with being a male worker in a nursery setting, Johnlee, from Hawick, says he has found the job very rewarding, and he loves to watch the children in his care develop into their full potential.
Commenting on his role, he said:
“Childcare is something I am hugely passionate about, and I hope to change perceptions of men working in this setting. I believe that it’s a job both males and females are equally good at, with each bringing their own strengths.”
A short period of study at Robert Gordon University in 2017 sparked his interest in childcare, and he decided then that this was the career step he would follow. After completing his course at college, he took a proactive approach and contacted Cherrytrees to register his interest in becoming a Practitioner.
Cherrytrees Manager Julie Loxton was delighted when Johnlee enquired and had the following to say:
“When Johnlee applied, there were no vacancies available at the time, but we were so impressed by his CV and his passion for childcare that we decided to invite him for an interview.
“He is now an integral part of the team and his natural nurturing skills make him the perfect person for the role.
“He is a passionate carer and having a male role model has had a positive impact on the children and staff here at Cherrytrees. He is more than capable and carries out every task effectively.”
Asked about his time at College and how it helped benefit his career, Johnlee added:
“I started my studies with Borders College during lockdown, and I found studying in isolation a challenge. With some excellent support structures in place from both the lecturers and support staff, I was able to complete the course and follow my dream of becoming a Nursery Practitioner.
“Studying at Borders College has given me a solid base to help improve on my work, and also further my studies in the future, and I hope to start on the HND Childcare programme in the near future.”
Outside his current occupation, Johnlee is a keen bodybuilder, describing this as a great way of improving his mental health. He is also passionate about pantomime and is a member of the Hawick Panto Group, who perform throughout the year.
His role in looking after the 0 – 2 age group at Cherrytrees will also be good practice, having recently become a father to a baby girl himself.
Hawick Cherrytrees Nursery is one of four situated throughout the Borders and Edinburgh regions. They provide professional, comprehensive childcare and are committed to delivering the highest standard of care.
Manager Julie added:
“We are proud to say that all our nurseries now employ male Practitioners. We employ staff based on their abilities and not their gender identification, and Johnlee is a great example of this.
“The College has been a great benefit to Johnlee, providing him with the skills to carry out the role effectively. We also have several other students close to completing their studies with the College, and their newly developed skills are proving a real asset to the company.”