This study confirms that family literacy programmes continue to be effective and bring benefits to parents and children that include, and go beyond, improvements in their literacy skills. The study adds to our understanding of why and how family literacy programmes work, and gives insights into how they can be improved.
This short report summarises the findings of a two-year evaluation project to assess the impact and effectiveness of family literacy programmes in England. The work was undertaken by the National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy (NRDC) and the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) for the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS). The research, which took place over 20 months from November 2007 to July 2009, aimed to assess the impact of family literacy programmes in England on the skills of parents2 and their children; family relationships; progression and social mobility.
A range of short (30-49 hours) and standard (72-96 hours)3 family literacy courses involving children between 3 and 7 years old were included. In specific terms the research objectives were to:
• Collect and analyse data on parents’ and children’s literacy skills at the beginning and end of the course
• Explore parents’ perceptions of how they support their children with reading, writing, speaking and listening, and how this may change as a result of the course
• Gather and analyse data about parents’ and children’s perceptions of being involved in the course
• Gather data on achievements/qualifications (where appropriate) and progression
• Provide an assessment of the value for money of family literacy
• Examine the perceived impact on participants’ lives – from the perspective of both participants and their tutors/teachers.
The project has also included the views and perceptions of headteachers and local authority family literacy managers.