Male student gets rewarding career in Early Years

Published: 15th February 2016

Published by City College Southampton

A former City College Southampton student is now working as a Learning Support Assistant (LSA) at Forest Park School, in Totton.

Tom Mullender, 23, from Shirley, studied BTEC level 3 diploma in children and early years at the college before embarking on his three-year long career as an LSA at a local school for those with moderate, severe and profound learning difficulties.

Tom chose City College as he sought hands-on learning. He said: “City College Southampton suited my style of learning, I preferred the practical approach to learning as it provided the context I needed for the written work. I could apply the information the tutors gave me to my work placements. It all seemed to flow really well - I would highly recommend City College.”

Prior to studying at the college, Tom, like many other teenagers, earned pocket-money through babysitting. He said this is where he found his calling, enjoying interacting with, and supporting, young children.

He said: “It’s really rewarding to see them learn and grow and know that you played a part in their development.”

In a predominantly female industry, Tom claims to have never noticed a stigma about his gender and career choice.

He said: “There is often a stereotype around men working in early years but no one I have ever spoken to has shared that belief. In fact, people seem to show a true appreciation for having a male staff member. There are not enough men in the industry at the moment, but I believe it’s important for children to have positive role models, both male and female.”

Rob Hatherley, headteacher at Forest Park School, added: “Having male staff means that schools are equitable and truly demographic. It is vital for children to see, understand and participate in the world around them. What could be better than to see both women and men working with children in the school environment. Male staff working with female colleagues helps provide the diverse community that we all strive for. All staff act as role models to young people, it is of huge importance that they see both men and women as positive figures in their lives.”

Tom, who professes to loving his job and feeling very proud of his role, hopes to one day open his very-own indoor play centre with his fiancé.