Brad wants more men to join him in ECEC
The Sector > Quality > In The Field > Brad wants more men to join him in ECEC

Brad wants more men to join him in ECEC

by Freya Lucas

April 18, 2024

For New South Wales TAFE graduate Brad Chapman early childhood education and care (ECEC) is a dynamic career choice, one he hopes more men will follow him into. 


Mr Chapman is a passionate advocate for nature-based learning who credits TAFE NSW for helping launch his career, one which is in high demand. 


Nearly half of one-year-olds attend some form of ECEC, and about 90 per cent of four-year-olds are enrolled in ECEC. Demand for skilled workers is forecast to grow 22 per cent by 2026, and with the NSW Government’s recent $769 million pledge to build 100 preschools by 2027, will continue to grow.


With males comprising only 2 per cent of the ECEC workforce, TAFE NSW Glendale graduate Mr Chapman is challenging the norm.


“My wife and I both always wanted to start our own business. My wife was already working in childcare (sic.), and we thought this might be an avenue for our future business, so I started my Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care at TAFE NSW.”


“I was doing casual work at Woodrising Natural Learning Centre to get a feel for the (sector) and found that I love working with children. I connected with the nature focus of Woodrising’s program, and from here I was offered a traineeship.”


Mr Chapman said his teachers at TAFE NSW were supportive of his exploration of nature-based learning, and helped him to learn more about the ECEC sector and the benefits for children engaging in risky play.


Dr Fran Hughes is a lecturer in early childhood education at the University of New England, Convenor of the Early Years Nature Connections Group in NSW, and co-author of the book Early Years Learning in Australian Natural Environments. Dr Hughes was also TAFE NSW teacher for over 20 years, and used Mr Chapman’s comments to highlight the importance of educators feeling confident and comfortable in nature.


“Risk is a big issue in early childhood education but moving our knowledge of risk into a different environment, into nature, has significant benefits for children across all developmental areas,” Dr Hughes said.


“Australia is unique in our environment and it’s important for Aussie children to understand Country. TAFE NSW has a reputation for being the best and most consistent educator provider for good reason. Its educators know how to implement new pedagogies in nature and implanting intentional teaching and role modelling into its training delivery.


Mr Chapman now works full-time in the preschool room at Woodrising where he incorporates construction, mark-making, and bushcraft. He also runs his own business, Primitive Bushcraft, which offers workshops for children in bush survival skills and risky play.


“I aspire to become a spokesperson and role model for other males in the field and to other men in the community,” he said. 


“Males in the ECEC sector have a huge impact on healthy development for children, and TAFE NSW is the best place to achieve the skills and training to enter the sector,” he said.


All TAFE NSW Early Childhood Education and Care courses are currently fee-free. Learn more about ECEC options with TAFE NSW here. 

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