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EPALE

En digital mötesplats för vuxenutbildare i Europa

 
 

Diskussion

Family literacy interventions: policy and practice

26/09/2019
av 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).
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Bild för Graciela Sbertoli
Yet another example of how we need to work on multiple fronts, including awareness raising about attitudes, to implement policy about basic skills!
Bild för 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.


Bild för Mary FLANAGAN

Good afternoon from Ireland. I find people ask questions about how to engage parents, and wonder how this happens. What seems to work well is connecting with those who already work with parents perhaps in another area e.g. a school or a community group. Introducing yourself and the work to them and usually it is a very positive experience, as our goals are the same. Helping parents to support their children and do well in school. In Ireland our work with family learning is based within adult literacy. Parents are sensitive to helping their children at key times as well starting preschool/kindergarden, starting primary school and also when moving to second level. 

Bild för EBSN CBS Editor
Good morning to everyone!

My name is Tamás Harangozó, currently working on EBSN's Capacity Building Series on Epale. I would like to add a comment regarding the policy aspect(s) of engaging families.

Involving whole families is, indeed, a great challenge, but also an important success factor of successful learning programs. This has also been emphasised in a 2017 policy brief by Unesco Institute of Lifelong Learning titled: Engaging families in literacy and learning. The document puts forward essential recommendations for policy-makers (pp 3-4):

1. Use a 'whole family' approach to address literacy challenges
2. Focus on the creation of literate environments
3. Promote cooperation using flexible funding streams and reporting approaches
4. Link literacy and learning to other services for disadvantaged families
5. Use family literacy and learning to break the intergenerational cycle of low education level
literacy challenges
Bild för Ann Hegarty

Thanks for pointing us all towards this excellent document Tamas. It provides very useful reflections on the value of family literacy and its important role in redressing intergenerational and educational disadvantage and inequalities. It also highlights the far reaching positive impact of FL outside of the educational context  across other areas of life including for example increased well being through the reduction of social isolation which is itself an important policy concern of the EU itself. 

Bild för Ann Hegarty
Sounds like you have a very successful process built up over time. Clearly the work of connecting and building those relationships takes time and resources and from my understanding this is sometimes down to individual effort rather than work that is recognised and resourced. Is that your experience?

I also like very much the idea that family literacy is a known and parallel feature for parents to support the development of family literacy confidence over the lifespan. It reflects nicely the lifelong learning drive that means we are supporting cultural change which recognises the importance of learning across the life journey whilst also meeting the needs of those who have experienced educational inequality.
Bild för Ann Hegarty
A warm welcome to what we hope will be a really useful, collaborative discussion about family literacy in Europe over the next two afternoons. I suggest that we try to work through the questions over the two days. 
Today we will focus on family literacy practice. 
I invite you to share with us your stories about the family literacy interventions or programmes that you know about in your locality or country. We can discuss the benefits of family literacy in your context and importantly how you have met the challenges in developing family literacy interventions or programmes. 
Tomorrow I suggest we focus on the policy context. However if you can only join us for part of the time and want to share a particular issue on either policy or practice we will make room for that also.
A reminder also to dip in and out of and contribute to the discussion over the two days to keep up to date with the conversation.