chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up home circle comment double-caret-left double-caret-right like like2 twitter epale-arrow-up text-bubble cloud stop caret-down caret-up caret-left caret-right file-text

EPALE - Elektroniczna platforma na rzecz uczenia się dorosłych w Europie


Family literacy interventions: policy and practice

przez EBSN CBS Editor

/en/file/family-literacyfamily literacy


Studies of language and literacy acquisition have shown the importance of literacy activities and processes in the home and there is much evidence across Europe that all parents care about their children’s education. However, and further highlighting aspects of educational inequality, not all parents have the knowledge and skills needed to best support their children’s literacy and learning development. Consequently, they do not see themselves as able to support their children’s literacy learning. Family literacy programmes and interventions work to redress this imbalance and to build parents’, children’s, families’, and thereby the wider communities’, literacy confidence.

Despite evidence of family literacy’s potential contribution to a number of EU policy goals there is no one EU wide family literacy policy. Policies focus sometimes on adults and sometimes on children and are located within the fields of adult basic skills, adult basic education, lifelong learning, childhood education and other sectoral policies for social inclusion.

The organic and fragmented nature of family literacy provision has been viewed as one of its strengths. Yet there may also be an opportunity to further strengthen this sector through the development of a cohesive and collaboratively created EU wide family literacy policy. This would give weight to family literacy as a core element in the promotion of a culture of lifelong learning amongst all families and thus make a significant contribution to a more socially just EU.

In this online discussion we invite participants to share their experiences of family literacy to consider the following questions:

  • With what family literacy interventions or programmes are you familiar in your area?
  • What are the perceived/measured benefits of family literacy in your context?
  • What do you think are the most significant challenges to the development of family literacy in your locality?
  • Where is family literacy policy housed within your national education policy and do you think this best serves the development of family literacy practice?
  • How might an EU wide family literacy policy contribute to a more socially just EU?

The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Ann Hegarty of the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA), Ireland. The discussion will be open from 9 October at 12:00 and will be concluded on 10 October at 17:00. Join us in the discussion by returning to this platform!



The Capacity Building Series of EBSN provides free open educational resources (OERs) and massive online courses (MOOCs) through EPALE, to help the implementation of the European Commission recommendations on Upskilling pathways in EU Member States. EPALE is funded by the Erasmus+ programme, as part the European Commission’s ongoing commitment to improving the quality of adult learning provision in Europe. The project is implemented with the support of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA).
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Epale SoundCloud Share on LinkedIn
Refresh comments Enable auto refresh

Wyświetla 1 - 10 z 18
Obrazek użytkownika Colman Ross
Great to see all the comments. Thanks Ann for facilitating. Looking forward to be engaged with EPALE. I am very keen to learn about the development of Family Learing Hubs tailored to the development of a sustainaable literate environment. For example in a multi-cultural setting how mother tounge or realted mother-tongues can be a platform for the development of a literate environment in a second language (host country). 
Obrazek użytkownika Mary FLANAGAN
I'm a bit late to add today as I was at training. It's lovely to hear other contributors. Fun maths is a short course we run for parents to come into primary schools, learn with their tutor for 45 minutes and then go into the classroom and share the fun maths activities with groups of children. Like Graciela says it gets parents in the door. We find having the school encourage parents to attend helps increase participation. We have a follow on Introduction to Maths at Second Level which is very popular as well. This is parent only and is run in the evenings, to suit those working. As Ann mentioned it encourages the lifelong idea of maths through from primary to second level, and parents can move on to courses for themselves after this short eight week course.
Dads and Lads Fun Science, Gardening, and Cooking are some of our courses and we also run Mums and children or more commonly parents and children together using these topics, depending on the local needs. 
Obrazek użytkownika Susannah Chambers
Good afternoon, in my experience as national policy lead for Family Learning for England and Wales as well as through discussions in my Family Learning in Europe (EAAL) and latterly in the USA an area of Family Literacy I feel is really crucial but is massively overlooked in policy and practice is the huge role Family Literacy has to play in supporting Family Maths. Where learners, for example, are attempting to answer maths questions they may well have the mathematical/computational skills but not possess the literacy skills to decipher the question in order to know what computation is required.
Obrazek użytkownika Ann Hegarty

Hi Sussanah you make a very useful contribution here re the integrated nature of literacy and maths. Do you know of any specific interventions around the issue that you could share here? I think that Juliette Collier and the Campaign for Learning have done work around this issue but with a focus on family finances in  response to the increase in poverty in the UK and in efforts to support families who are experiencing hardship

Obrazek użytkownika Tamas Harangozo
Dear Participants,

As a member of the editing staff, I would kindly like to direct your attention to the recently finished collection of openly available resources in the field of family literacy authored by Dr. Ann Hegarty. The OER unit addresses the policy and practical level of FL too. See chapter 2 for the policy-oriented resources. 

Link: EBSN CBS OER on Family Literacy Intervention: Policy and Practice

Have a look at our curated resources for more details and references!
Obrazek użytkownika Mary FLANAGAN

Thank you Ann. Certainly if there is consistency of staff it helps to build up a relationship. Some organisations have high staff turn over and we need to continue to promote. Family Literacy/Learning is new to many people, even in Ireland! Family Literacy work does require extra effort to promote and to recruit. It is well worth the effort as every class can make a difference to people's lives. We never know what bit will be useful to parents, that they will think about at home.

Yes Family Literacy is very inclusive and can be one of the few places where parents can meet up with other parents from different backgrounds, and with different aged children as well. There is always a huge amount of peer sharing and learning in groups. Parents love to learn ways to help their children, they can go home and immediately try these ideas out, building up their confidence in many ways.

Obrazek użytkownika Ann Hegarty

Thanks Mary for contributing these reflections. It is curious is it not that this family literacy and learning carework has such a low profile both here and in the EU? Is this related do you think to the gendered nature of the work…that is where women’s care work goes unrecognised more generally and as a consequence is unremarked, taken for granted and consequentially underesourced? Could this be a factor in this?

When you consider the amount of research that is out there (see the OER for this) and which clearly identifies FL as significant and beneficial to individuals, families and communities it is a wonder that it is not more well known. As you say we sometimes do not know the exact impact of FL on parents and their families but there is much evidence of its impact on how these programmes can transform participants learning identities in the most profound ways. Such transformation can be both empowering and revelatory….people begin to see that they can indeed learn and this in turn can open new horizons and choices which many thought they could never have envisaged previously.

Obrazek użytkownika Graciela Sbertoli
Hi, and thank you for all the ideas that have come up in the discussion. Yes, I think gender issues feature heavily in Family Learning. I live in Norway and here we had an interesting experience several years ago, when we organized Numeracy classes through Family Learning. Suddenly we did get the fathers' attention! Why there should be this perception that literacy is for mums while numeracy is for dads... well, that beats me. But whatever works... I know that the UK has had gender specific family learning groups like "Dads and Lads". 
Obrazek użytkownika Ann Hegarty

Whatever works’ is probably a very good motto for FL as this is really the principle on which programmes get developed in collaboration with learners.

Also I am thinking that the very fact that the numeracy programme supported dads through the door was a success that could easily be built on…. There is much evidence that many FL participants regain confidence in their learning identities and this then can support them to further learning. 

Obrazek użytkownika Ann Hegarty

Thanks Graciella. My research into the impact of the construction of masculinity on fathers engagement in FL highlighted how much gender and literacy are intertwined. Many of the men I worked with learnt early, from their families, their peers and local community that literacy activities were ‘girly’ and ‘gay’ and as such to be avoided…..this legacy impacted on their current identities. Many also spoke of being fearful of entering such a women’s space, of being judged by others and of fears about being ‘shown’ up in a public context…as such they chose to avoid making themselves vulnerable in these spaces. The story about numeracy programmes you shared may also highlight this tight relationship between gender and fathers participation in FL?