Low numbers of men working in early years education may restrict children's access to positive male role models, head teachers are suggesting.
Members of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) are expect to call for action to encourage more men to work in the sector at their annual conference in Liverpool this weekend.
Delegates at the conference are due to debate a resolution urging the Government to "acknowledge the low numbers of men employed in the early years".
It says: "We believe that this can restrict opportunities for all children to experience positive male role models and can prevent some children, especially those from deprived backgrounds, from fulfilling their educational potential.
"We need to encourage a more diverse sector and call on the Department for Education (DfE) to work with the sector to identify ways to encourage more men into the early years."
Figures from the DfE's last childcare and early years survey, published in 2014, showed that men made up 2% of childminders and the same proportion of nursery workers.
James Bowen, director of NAHT Edge, said: "It's important for all children to experience positive male role models, and to understand that men can be interested in education, science or reading, just as much as in football.
"A diverse early years workforce can help children, especially those from deprived backgrounds, to visualise their futures and fulfil their educational potential.
"The lack of male teachers in early years is partly due to the perceived lack of status and importance this phase of education can have, and the subsequent lower pay early years roles can attract.
"This fails to recognise that early years education is one of the most vital moments in a child's education, and the point at which attainment and life chances can be set."
Early years education typically covers pre-school education, such as that provided in nurseries, as well as the reception year of infant school.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "It is important that young children have both male and female role models in their early years and having a diverse range of people working in childcare has an important part to play in this.
"We have set up a group to look at the number of men working in early years in more depth and consider what more could be done to encourage men to consider this rewarding career.
"We look forward to the group's findings and will be considering them carefully to see what steps can be taken to address this issue."
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