Ryan Hinson is a 30-year-old male graduate teaching assistant in the early years and Key Stage 2.
He is currently doing the final year of his Master’s Degree in Professional Studies at Bishop Grosseteste University, in Lincoln.
Ryan currently has two degrees in early childhood and alongside his teaching assistant role, he is also an after-school club leader at Wragby Primary School. Ryan has worked in two primary schools in Lincolnshire for the past eight years.
He delivers a variety of different clubs for key stage two children – including a popular football club, a running club and has also taught children British sign language.
What is really interesting and rare about Wragby Primary school is how the school has two males working in the early years.
Ryan expressed great respect for his fellow male colleague.
He said: “Having two males working in the early years is very rare indeed.
“The class teacher, Mr Hempstead, is a fantastic male role model.
“He is so supportive and is a joy to work alongside.
“The children and parents respond positively to both of us and I think it is a very positive thing to have two males working in the early years.
“I find being in the early years such a complete breath of fresh air.
“Early years children have an abundance of energy, are inquisitive and immensely endearing.
“I find the early years to be incredibly special, with lots of development taking place, where personalities and imagination really do begin to blossom.”
Ryan worked alongside Mrs Scarbro in the early years for five years, and describes her as ‘truly inspirational’.
Ryan added Mrs Scarbro has an ‘amazing passion for the early years’, and is someone he has learnt a lot from.
Mrs Scarbro said: “Ryan came to work with me in early years and quickly understood the value of learning through independent play.
“He developed an ability to enhance children’s learning with careful questioning, allowing them time to explore and investigate in a rich environment.
“Ryan has a lovely calm approach which relaxes children and they are eager to work with him.
“Having a male role model such as Ryan in an early years classroom is of benefit to many children with different family backgrounds.
“It has been a pleasure to see Ryan progress to where he is now and I know he is having a positive impact on many young lives”.
Ryan further reflects on the lack of males during his time studying at Bishop Grossesteste University, in Lincoln.
He said: “I recall a class of 40-50 students and I was the only male!
“I remember receiving the odd comment such as - ‘a male in early years, that’s a bit different’, but this did not bother me.
“Having my own children meant I had actual life experience with children.
“I feel that this has helped me to have empathy as well as patience with children.
“So, I simply brushed it off, got my Foundation Degree in Professional Studies in Early Childhood at Bishop Grosseteste University, followed by achieving a Bachelor of the Arts Degree in Professional Studies with a focus on Early Childhood.”
Dr Sacha Mason, who has been Ryan’s lecturer throughout his studies at BGU, praised Ryan’s achievements.
Dr Mason said: “At Bishop Grosseteste University we recognise and are committed to the value of graduate led practice in the Early Years.
“Ryan has studied with us as an undergraduate on the Professional Studies programmes for three years and he is now currently working towards a Masters Degree in Professional Studies.
“All of the programmes in the academic subject of Professional Studies at BGU allow students like Ryan to work and study at the same time.
“The courses are designed flexibly to support mature students to continue lifelong learning in areas of their professional practice, such as the early years. The Professional Studies courses enables students to critical reflect of how best to support the learning and development of children and young people.
“Ryan is committed to promoting more males in the early years and we are absolutely delighted that he is able to use his role in the sector and his studies as platforms to do this.”
Ryan added: “My experience at BGU has been an incredible journey.
“I always have a positive mindset, working extremely hard, working full time, attending university one day a week for four years and also having a young family of my own at home has certainly kept me rather busy.
“It has required dedication, determination, persistence and an abundance of mental strength.
“At times it hasn’t been easy.
“It has required a lot of sacrifice along the way, and behind closed doors, hours upon hours of studying.
“Nothing is given to you in life – you have to go out and get it yourself.
“Then you have to continuously strive to be the best you can be.
“But, education is incredibly powerful, and it has been worth every second.
“I now have a full-time job at Wragby Primary and could not be happier.
“I feel blessed to work with children, it is a job which each day brings different challenges but also a job which makes a real difference.
“I try to enjoy each day, play to my strengths and approach my work with a smile and happiness.
“I would recommend the early childhood degree studies at BGU to anyone with an interest in working with young children.
“The lecturers are all immensely supportive and inspiring.
“It is also a great degree in the sense that you can do it alongside working.
“It has really shaped who I’ve become and developed my confidence.
“I am actually relatively introverted with adults until I get to know people.
“However, I have always felt very relaxed with children, and especially confident when coaching our school football team as well as working in the early years. It feels natural and this is where my confidence comes out.
“My university studies have provided me with that extra element of confidence to really believe in myself.
“I only ever intended to do my Foundation degree so when I reflect on my journey and to now be edging closer to achieving a Master’s Degree at Level 7 really is quite an achievement and something I should be proud of.”
Ryan further reflected on being a TA on course for an MA.
He said: “I suppose it is quite unusual, I don’t know?
“I am immensely proud to have achieved what I have academically as a teaching assistant and feel the role teaching assistants play within schools can often be overlooked by society.
“Luckily, at Wragby I feel our TA’s are massively appreciated.
“However, within society as a whole I do think TA’s deserve more recognition, not just graduate TA’s but all TA’s as the work they do daily is invaluable to schools and I believe without TA’s children and class teachers would struggle.
“I hope I can inspire more TA’s, both male and female, to consider doing the early childhood degrees at BGU.
“If by achieving what I have helps fly the flag in any way for TA’s then this has to be a positive thing”.
“I have also been lucky to work in two fantastic schools, with two fantastically supportive head teachers.
“I learnt a lot from Mr Morley, who was head teacher at a previous school I worked at.
“He had a lovely, positive calm approach with children and staff, and always had time for others.”
Ryan also praised Mrs Osgodby who is the head teacher at Wragby.
He said: “Mrs Osgodby has always supported me with my ideas and has such a passion for the job.
“She genuinely cares for all the children, staff and parents.
“Wragby Primary School really is great at utilising staff’s strengths and I feel this is why we are a great team .
Mrs Osgodby added: “It would be fabulous to encourage more males into primary education as they provide such valuable role models.
“At Wragby we are fortunate to have two male members of staff working in our team who have much to offer to the ethos and functioning of our school.”
Ryan added: “What is great about Wragby Primary is that there is a real family feel to the team.
“I feel very lucky to work with an abundance of lovely people who all have such a variety of skills.
“What next…? I have many more ideas and after school clubs which I am looking forward to delivering alongside my TA role.
“With regards to my studies , after my MA I think I may enjoy a little break from my studies.
“In the future I would really like to write a book possibly about being a male in the early years – or I would quite like to write a book on my experiences of fatherhood.”
“If there are any publishers out their reading this, please contact me.”