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Early childhood educator, Brad Chapman. Early childhood educator, Brad Chapman. Featured
01 May 2024 Posted by 


He's an advocate of nature- based learning
CENTRAL Coast early childhood educator, Brad Chapman, is challenging industry norms in more ways than one.
With males comprising only two per cent of the early childhood workforce, the TAFE NSW graduate from Glendale believes more men should step up and join the industry.
Brad is also a passionate advocate for nature-based learning and has been able to put that into practice in his early learning role.
“My wife and I both always wanted to start our own business,” Brad explains.
“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. 
"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 outdoor play,” Brad said. 
He said 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 developed 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 early childhood education sector can 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. 
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”. 
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.  
She said a 2023 University of New England survey across registered services in NSW showed exponential growth in nature-based programs and acknowledged TAFE NSW’s role in training the future workforce.    
“Australia is unique in our environment and it's important for Aussie kids to understand country,” Dr Hughes said.
“TAFE NSW has a reputation for being the best and most consistent educator provider for good reason.  
“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.”
Nearly half of one-year-olds attend some form of early childhood education and care, and about 90 per cent of four-year-olds.
Demand for skilled workers is forecast to grow 22 per cent by 2026, and with the NSW Government’s recent $769M pledge to build 100 preschools by 2027, TAFE NSW offers the hands-on training future educators need to gain employment.  
All TAFE NSW Early Childhood Education and Care courses are currently fee-free. To find out more you can visit the website at www.tafensw.edu.au.


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

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