A ‘DINNER daddy’ who has proved a massive hit with pupils is urging more men to enter the school kitchen.

Iain Harris took a job as a lunchtime supervisor at St Godric’s RC Primary School, in Newton Hall, Durham City, last December, defying the ‘dinner lady’ stereotype.

Initially, the 39-year-old took the work to supplement his income as a self-employed gardener, knowing there would be fewer weeds to be pulled during winter.

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However, he loved the job, says he wouldn’t dream of leaving and is urging other men to consider following in his footsteps.

“Some of my mates give me a bit of a ribbing about it,” he admitted, “But it’s good for the children.

“There aren’t any male teachers in the school and I can be a male role model for them.”

Mr Harris, from Brasside, near Durham, is married with three children: Jessica, 15, who previously attended St Godric’s; Daisy, five, who is at the school now; and Kitty, four, who is due to start in September.

He says his work, for an hour-and-a-quarter each weekday lunchtime, includes setting up the dining room, supervising lunches, clearing tables, settling arguments, rubbing scraped knees, refereeing football matches and much more.

“I love messing around with the kids and having fun. It’s great fun. You get out and about and you might see the children for seven years and have a beneficial impact on them,” he added.

Headteacher Catherine Craig said: “There aren’t many men in primary education. Iain is definitely an asset to us.

“It’s good to have a male role model for the pupils and they, especially the boys, respond really well to them.

“He chats and plays football with them and has a great sense of humour that keeps us all smiling. We love our dinner daddy.”

Patrick Dutton, 10, said: “He’s helps a lot and is really funny.”

James Bowman, 10, said: “On the playground if anyone’s feeling lonely he plays with them. He’s always cheerful and makes loads of jokes. He’s a nice person to be around.”

Jude Parkinson, ten, said: “Everyone likes him.”