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TAFE NSW empowering men to build early childhood careers

TAFE NSW Glendale

TAFE NSW empowering men to build early childhood careers

A Hunter early childhood educator and passionate advocate for nature-based learning has credited TAFE NSW for helping launch his promising career and is calling out for more future educators to join the industry.

Nearly half of one-year-olds attend some form of early childhood education and care (ECEC), and about 90% of four-year-olds are enrolled in ECEC. Demand for skilled workers is forecast to grow 22% by 2026, and with the NSW Government’s recent $769 million pledge to build 100 preschools by 2027, TAFE NSW delivering the hands-on training future educators need to gain employment.

With males comprising only 2% of the ECEC workforce, TAFE NSW Glendale graduate, Brad Chapman, is challenging the norm.

“My wife and I both always wanted to start our own business. My wife was already working in childcare, 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 industry 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.

"My teachers at TAFE NSW were supportive of my exploration of nature-based learning, and I learned more about the educator sector and the benefits for children engaging in risky play,” Brad said.

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. She highlighted the importance for educators to feel 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.

Dr Hughes said a 2023 University of New England survey across ACECQA ​​​​​​​registered services in NSW showed exponential growth in nature-based programs and acknowledged TAFE NSW’ role in training the future workforce.  

“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.

“Early childhood education and care is growing, and people are still coming to the industry because it’s an incredibly rewarding career. It’s not just about caring; it’s about educating and that’s the future.”

Brad Chapman was a finalist in the 2023 NSW Training Awards and said that while balancing his training with his own young family was a challenge, his TAFE NSW qualification was now paying off, with a full-time role at Woodrising Natural Learning Centre.

“After graduating from TAFE NSW, I now work full-time in the preschool room where we incorporate construction, mark-making, and bushcraft, an area I was supported to develop, to support children in key learning areas. I also run my own business, Primitive Bushcraft, where I run 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. 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 industry,” he said.

All TAFE NSW Early Childhood Education and Care courses are currently fee-free.

Media contact: Emily Graham, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, 02 7921 3756.