4 February 2015

Family Learning Works

Martin Dunford, OBE, Chief Executive, Skills Training UK, a commissioner for the NIACE Family Learning Inquiry, has endorsed the recommendations published in the Family Learning Works report on 18 October. He was the only commissioner from the independent learning provider sector.

Martin’s involvement helped ensure the key recommendations included putting family learning at the heart of adult skills strategies which aim to re-engage long term unemployed adults who are furthest from the labour market. The inquiry found that investment in family learning is cost-effective and sustainable, with multiple outcomes achieved from a single intervention when adults improve their basic skills at the same time as their children.

Martin Dunford OBE says: “The evidence gathered clearly demonstrates that family learning helps disadvantaged adults improve their skills and can act as a stepping stone to further learning by appealing to their desire to support their children.”

He added: “Families who are struggling will often have low level skills, poorer housing and health and they need support to break out of that cycle. What this inquiry showed was that learning does have a transformational effect. It has an economic impact and helps build a better society and we need Local Enterprise Partnerships, local authorities and other commissioners to recognise this potential and use family learning to engage those adults who are furthest from the labour market.”

Skills Training UK is the Prime Contractor in South East England for the European Social Fund financed Support for Families with Multiple Problems which it branded Progress! The programme helps people in families with multiple problems and complex needs to progress closer to employment and is delivered by Skills Training UK and a partnership network across South East England, with 19 Local Authorities and Jobcentre Plus advisors playing a key role in referring individuals.

The six recommendations in NIACE’s Family Learning Works report are as follows:

  1. Family learning should be integral to school strategies to raise children’s attainment and to narrow the gap between the lowest and highest achievers.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Key government departments should include family learning in their policies and strategies in order to achieve cross-departmental outcomes.
  5. The governments of England and Wales should regularly review the funding for and supply of family learning against potential demand.
  6. 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.


Visit www.niace.org.uk for the full details of the report.

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