Nadhim Zahawi, the minister for children and families Ms Tanuku added that nursery mangers must firmly refuse requests from parents for male staff not to change nappies or take their children to the toilet.“There have been situations where parents have asked for male practitioners not to carry out personal care for their child and although a sensitive situation, it must be dealt with immediately,” she said.“By making your position clear it will demonstrate to all parents, colleagues and the worker himself, that he is a valued and trusted member of staff. There is also a separate legal issue of discrimination if a nursery were to ban male employees from carrying out personal care.” “Some children out there may not have a male in their home, there needs to be balance, they need to have that interaction,” he told the BBC. “It breaks down that whole, ‘you have to be macho to be a male,’ thing. It shows them men can be silly, can play, make jokes, can give you a hug if you’ve fallen down.” Nadhim Zahawi, the minister for children and families, said that the lack of male nursery teachers is a problem which Department for Education officials are trying to address. Speaking at the education select committee, he said: “I think there is an issue. We do need to do more.“One of the areas we are looking to do more is on apprenticeships – to get more people considering a career in early years especially males. It is something that is important. A lack of male role models is not a good thing.”Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association, said that childcare is seen by many as a “woman’s job” and that recruiting male practitioners is a “long standing problem” for the sector. She added that “misplaced perceptions” about male nursery workers are “fuelled by negative stereotypes”. The majority of councils have no men working in their nurseries, as parents assume they pose a risk to young children. Of the 38 councils in England, Scotland and Wales which still have in-house nurseries, 26 do not hire a single male teacher. Jamel Campbell, of the London Early Years Foundation, said: “People are entrusting their precious babies to us, to care for them and to teach them. There is a lot of stigma based on negative stories – children being at harm… men not being nurturing, men not being able to work with children that small.”Of 400,000 early years educators – which includes preschools, nurseries and school reception classes – 98 per cent are female. The starting salary for nursery practitioners is around £18,000.Mr Campbell said that more men would be interested in becoming nursery teachers if they understood the benefits it can bring to young children. Of the 38 councils in England, Scotland and Wales which still have in-house nurseries, 26 do not hire a single male teacher Credit: Christopher Furlong Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Earlier this week, a report warned that a recruitment crisis in nursery schools could see half of highly-qualified staff retiring within 25 years. Analysis by the Education Policy Institute found that a large proportion of staff with degree-level qualifications are aged over 40. One in five are over 50 and are set to retire within 10 to 15 years, the report said, while younger staff are more likely to be volunteers. In reception classes almost 16 per cent of staff are unpaid volunteers, and the number of unpaid staff in independent nurseries rose by 60 per cent between 2008 and 2013.