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NIACE Literacy Inquiry: In, Out, and Beyond Work Questions for Family Learning What are the three biggest challenges for family literacy? FL can be a means of access to education for the poorest and most marginalised in society. Reaching men and boys. Providing highly-trained tutors who have access to appropriate, timely CPD. What are the literacy demands for families in a time of economic challenge? Literacy education that is focussed on community and personal development and social justice, and which improves confidence, self-esteem and motivation. These goals are compatible with economic and employment-related goals for literacy education. Such provision can be an essential first step on the way to employment for people who may find it difficult to access more employment-focused courses, for example people who have never worked or not worked for a long time. Financial literacy, including the language of debt management. Development of communication skills, especially dealing with professionals (for example their children’s school teachers as well as those connected to financial planning and debt management). IT literacy (for example to keep up with what their children are learning and in relation to work). Who is missing from current provision? Many of the poorest and most marginalised, who are often the most lacking in confidence and the hardest to reach. Men and boys. How can intergenerational learning be better promoted? The intergenerational effect (or “ripple effect”) of family learning on every aspect of people’s lives including their children and wider families, needs to be highlighted. The driving force behind people’s attending family literacy classes is to help their children or to give their children a better chance. It does not always have to take place within schools – other venues could be considered, or outside school hours or in school holidays. Explicit signposting in the community – doctors’ surgeries, social services premises, shops/post offices etc. Hard-to-reach learners are often seen by social workers and doctors, health visitors etc. – they should be able to signpost learners to FL courses. How does funding affect delivery models and how can we get better value for money from what we spend? Reduced access to funding means fewer follow-on courses, so many FL courses are held in isolation. There needs to be an awareness of the importance of follow-on courses or other choices. At the end of a course or workshop learners should be offered high quality advice and information about a range of opportunities so that they can continue their learning journey. Then data needs to be gathered on what happens after an adult learner finishes a course. The requirement for eight learners to make a course viable should be reduced to four for those designed for those who find provision difficult to access. How do we improve the performance of staff at all levels, including in relation to functional skills? Regular CPD to keep staff motivated. Training to include financial literacy. Regular meetings for part-time staff to network and share experience. Teacher pay and conditions to reflect skills and the importance of the subject. They are often part-time and low paid. What are the policy priorities? FL programmes should be offered in every school in the country. Every parent should be given the option of one free 6 hour FL programme. Effective signposting in the community and through the media to reach those who need it. A variety of ways to measure success: progression onto other learning, progression into paid or volunteer work; feedback from schools. In hard times, what are the lowest priorities? Bureaucracy for teaching staff to leave more time for teaching. A basic lesson plan and ILPs should be enough. Fewer managers, more teachers Compiled by Yvonne Spare, on behalf of the RaPAL membership. March 2011.
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