Comprehensive family learning is essential to unlocking potential

A coalition of organisations from across the adult education, early years and family support sectors is calling for long-term reform to family learning

A coalition of organisations from across the adult education, early years and family support sectors is calling for long-term reform to family learning

29 Feb 2024, 5:00

Family learning plays a crucial role in educational empowerment, enabling families to explore new skills, engage in their children’s education and enhance their own learning. It acts as a catalyst for literacy, language, numeracy, wellbeing, science, financial education and parenting skills. And yet is too often underestimated, overlooked or misunderstood. 

That’s why we must create a national system in which every child and every parent benefits, rebuilding family learning and elevating it from an invisible funding stream within adult skills to a fully sustainable system.

The importance of family learning

Family learning exerts an immense and transformative influence on education, unleashing unparalleled opportunities for growth and development in both parents and children.

This formidable force has been regrettably absent in many areas of our current educational landscape. At the moment, too few families can access family learning. This needs to change.

That’s why we’re calling for a new funded system that elevates family learning to the status it deserves. Our five assertive demands directed at the government put forward a strategic blueprint to ensure every child and parent has the privilege of accessing it, no matter where they live.

Family learning involves joint learning activities for both children and adult family members, promoting mutual learning and development outcomes through specially designed courses and activities in community settings.

It forms the foundation of lifelong learning by building parents’ capacity to support their children’s learning. It can also positively influence children’s education, improving attendance, reducing absenteeism and enhancing communication between schools and parents.

Family learning also opens up opportunities for adults and motivates parents to overcome personal barriers to learning, fostering confidence and providing a pathway to FE and employment.

A vision for the future

There has been a decline in publicly-funded family learning since 2008/09. Our Five Asks document stresses the need to restore family learning to its former prominence. The vision is to provide every child and parent with opportunities for short and engaging family learning activities, as well as more substantial courses.

Acknowledging the need for increased public spending, our proposed funding package aims to restore family learning to previous levels and introduce a statutory entitlement. A combined family learning budget would incorporate funding from various sources and represent a significant step-change in resource allocation.

This comprehensive family learning strategy is a call to unlock the potential of every child and parent. By addressing these five asks, the government can build a sustainable, accessible and transformative family learning system, fostering a culture of lifelong learning and empowerment.

The working group, coordinated by Campaign for Learning and including Boromi, The Centre for Emotional Health, HOLEX, National Numeracy, Peeple, School-Home Support and WEA, stands ready to collaborate with policymakers to turn this vision into reality throughout the coming decades.

Five asks for family learning

  1. Create a single, national, ring-fenced family learning budget from the existing funding in the Adult Education Budget and an extra £75m from the Treasury, managed by the Department for Education and devolved to local authorities.
  2. Introduce a statutory entitlement to 15 hours of fully funded family learning for parents and carers of each child aged nine months to four years and subsequently extended to children aged nine months to 10 years.
  3. Integrate family learning into the work of family support services including Family Hubs, Children’s Centres, and Family and Health Services.
  4. Embed the value of family learning into the workforce development of the education sector including early learning, childcare, teaching, adult education and family support.
  5. Allow parents to become eligible for 30 hours of state-funded childcare when they participate in family learning and/or training and retraining.

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One comment

  1. Dave Spart

    A positive and considered set of proposals. In case anyone should be in doubt of the need to raise the profile and prestige of family learning, it’s worth remembering that in the 2022 Funding and Accountability consultation it merited not one single mention, and the proposals for Community Learning purposes appeared to exclude it from future funding. Thankfully there was subsequently a U-turn on that issue, but we can’t afford to be complacent.