Children stand a  much better chance in life, if their parents are involved in learning

So, what’s new?


Research tells us that adults whose parents have low levels of education are eight times more likely to have poor proficiency in literacy than adults whose parents had higher levels of education. Parents are in truth the primary teachers, mentors and guides for children and young people. Research shows that children stand a much better chance of succeeding in life if their parents are engaged in learning. Yet  the lives and life chances of far too many  are frustrated by the circumstances of their  birth and restricted by their parents’ own  poor educational attainment.

The commissioners  of an NIACE inquiry  suggest, very strongly, that it is only by  addressing the issues within families, working  with them to develop positive attitudes to  learning, that we can ever hope to make that  step change difference that is needed.

Learning as a family, they say has multiple benefits. Family learning raises children’s attainment and schools have a  major role to play here –  because all great schools  involve parents. Evidence has shown that  family learning could increase the overall  level of children’s development by as much  as 15 percentage points for those from  disadvantaged groups.

The stand out message from this report is ‘Family learning works. It not only secures better outcomes for children and their parents, but also has measurable positive impacts on a wide range of economic and  social policy agendas’.

The NIACE Inquiry into Family Learning was launched in October 2012 to gather new  evidence of the impact of family learning, to  develop new thinking and to influence public  policy.The report recommends, interalia, that:

Family learning should be integral to school strategies to raise children’s attainment and to narrow the gap between the lowest  and highest achievers. (why not use part of the Pupil Premium on family learning)

 Family learning should be a key element of adult learning and skills strategies to engage those furthest from the labour market and improve employability, especially through family English and maths provision.

 Every child should have the right to be part of a learning family.  Many children grow up in families that can support their learning but some do not. Public bodies should target support to help these families.

 Key government departments should include family learning in their policies and strategies in order to achieve cross-departmental outcomes.

 The governments of England and Wales should regularly review the funding for and supply of family learning against potential demand.

 There should be a joint national forum for family learning in England and Wales to support high quality, innovative practice,  appropriate policy and advocacy, research and development.

 Family Learning Works The Inquiry into Family Learning in England and Wales-October 2013-NIACE



  1. It might help if there was any kind of consensus on what the concept of “a family” actually is. Instead we’ve seen the family subjected to attack from every possible angle in recent decades. In a school I worked in not that long ago, discussing why a particular child was so disaffected and lazy, the head told me that when she arrived at the school, her “father”…didn’t even know her name.

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