Niace demands Pupil Premium cash for family learning

The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (Niace) wants Pupil Premium cash from the government to fund a huge expansion in family learning across the country.

It unveiled a report today, called Family Learning Works, outlining how family education programmes improved child and adult numeracy, literacy and other key skills.

Family programmes aim to encourage family members to learn together, providing learning to both adults and children and provide progression for the adult to other learning.

They are usually delivered by teachers from FE colleges, local authorities, or charities at primary schools.

And David Hughes, Niace chief executive, has called on the government to encourage schools to spend their Pupil Premiums on family learning.

The national Pupil Premium budget was £1.875bn in 2013-14, with schools — who have freedom to spend the funding how they want — attracting £900 per disadvantaged child.

Niace would like at least 2.3 per cent of this money diverted to family learning, which would amount to £45m in England.

Mr Hughes said: “Across the country, there are examples of family learning programmes which have transformed the prospects for adults and children. But these programmes need to be the norm in every school and community.

“There is funding available to pay for this through the Pupil Premium. Family learning must be part of a national strategy, formed of local partnerships, to give adults and children from all walks of life the opportunities to become learners and reap the wide benefits of learning.”

The government launched the Pupil Premium scheme in April 2011 to help reduce inequalities between children eligible for free school meals and their peers.

Lady Howarth chaired the Niace inquiry that produced the report. She said: “Evidence shows family learning could increase the overall level of children’s development by as much as 15 per cent for those from disadvantaged groups.

“It could, in one generation, change the lives of a whole generation. We would be foolish to miss such an opportunity.”

The report called for family learning to become a key element of future government planning for improving post-16 education and adult employment prospects.

It stated: “We want family learning to be seen as an effective use of school funding, to ensure the parents and carers of children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are offered high-quality learning opportunities.

“In addition, we want to see family learning integrated into strategies to engage those furthest from the labour market and improve employability where, evidence shows, learning can be hugely effective — perhaps more so than any other single intervention.”