A male enters the nanny state

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NORLAND COLLEGE, which has turned out the cream of the world's nannies since 1892, has admitted its first male student, 22-year-old Katsuki Yuzawa.

Mr Yuzawa, who has experience of child care at a nursery run by his parents in Tochigi in Japan, will take a one-year International Diploma Course.

"I am here because I like children and I like this job taking care of children," he said. "I enjoy their company."

Mr Yuzawa applied for the place at the college in Hungerford, Berkshire, after his mother visited it during a tour of training colleges in England.

Norland nannies are among the most highly prized in the world, commanding large salaries and perks. They are traditionally employed by royalty and wealthy families, and often travel the world, staying in exotic resorts to look after children of the holidaying rich.

In Japan, where male nannies are more common, the theory of child care is much the same, said Mr Yuzawa, though there are practical differences. "Our nurseries are different because we have ground sand outside for the children, not grass, and when we enter the room we take off our shoes and put on slippers," he said. "We don't have harnesses to keep hold of the children. We put them in a big pushchair. "

He spends most of his time at the college, but travels to a local primary school once a week where the children help him with English. Mr Yuzawa took a course at Richmond college to learn English before applying to the nanny college.

After graduating next October, he plans to return to Japan to use his Norland training at his parents' nursery.

Louise Davis, principal of the college, said an equal opportunities policy had been in place since 1992, but only one male applicant had approached Norland since then.

"He was turned down simply because he did not meet the selection criteria," she said. "We look for exactly the same in a man as we do in a woman, a liking for children, an interest in their development and education, a good sense of humour and a good education.

"We would like more male applicants - it would strengthen the profession.

"Often people are keen to have a male nanny. Mothers on their own sometimes feel it is good for children not to have an all-female environment."

Maleness is not the only reason to single out Mr Yuzawa from the 80 other students. They wear Norland regulation brown dresses. He wears a blazer, tie and grey slacks.