Family Learning – 10 top tips from adult and community learning

The NIACE-led independent Inquiry into Family Learning has shone a light on an important aspect of education that has been in the shadows for too long. Family learning is a positive and proven way to tackle educational inequality across generations so it’s good to see that NIACE and Ofsted are now calling for examples of good practice and that the Family Learning Works report is inspiring action instead of gathering dust after its publication.

Family learning - activity

The WEA has a long and successful tradition of working with schools, children’s centres, parents and carers. As a national organisation covering England and Scotland, we work at strategic levels but are also embedded in neighbourhoods.

Ten tips

  1. Develop local networks around each school. Contacts are not enough. Nurture relationships.
  2. Stay in the community for the long haul. Don’t do one project and move on.
  3. Talk with teachers and head teachers about making parents and carers welcome in schools. Work together to deal with concerns about school security and safeguarding.
  4. Agree ground rules for all relationships to avoid misunderstandings or inappropriate behaviour by anyone.
  5. Negotiate the curriculum and learning outcomes so that they are relevant and appealing.
  6. Don’t stereotype or patronise people or make assumptions that might limit their learning.
  7. Enlist successful adult learners as role models and community learning champions to engage others and show what’s possible.
  8. Celebrate achievements of parents, carers and children!
  9. Inspire parents and carers to keep learning, to take the next steps and to motivate their children.
  10. Collaborate. We all need to keep learning and improving.

Our top tips for working with parents and carers in family learning reflect the networked and supportive approaches that we use in general adult and community learning practice. Good quality teaching, learning and assessment are at the core but learning activities are set in a wider context and don’t take place in isolation. They need groundwork, learning support and pointers for moving on.

Do you agree with the list or have you got other ideas?

What works in your practice and what can we learn from, or teach, other sectors?

You can find more about the NIACE and Ofsted joint project on illuminating excellent practice in Family Learning here.