Making Space for Learning

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Kate Pahl, University of Sheffield, 2004


This is an evaluation of Skills for Families funded provision in the context of Continuing Education and Training Service (CETS) family learning in Croydon. Several different types of courses were run. The evaluation finds that the funding enabled richer partnerships to be developed and built upon, and provided an opportunity for tutors to explore new curricula concepts. The funding developed new learning environments in a variety of settings, including early years centres, Sure Start and schools. It also generated capacity building and training, which raised the profile of CETS family learning and meant that partners were keen to work with the service.

Some specific findings:

Parents As Learning Supporters (PALS) played an important role in the courses. PALS are parent volunteers (although there are also opportunities for paid work) who act as outreach workers and links between homes and the school. They support parents with their learning and demonstrate a progression route, since they can gain accreditation through London Open College Network and, it is hoped, move into the job market.

The ICT course (a Keeping Up with the Children course) facilitated very fast learning with a variety of outcomes, including gaining new knowledge, supporting children and progressing to further learning. The evaluation recommends that a strategy for progression could be to support learners beyond the courses using ICT facilities within libraries, museums and learning centres. The bilingual storytelling project offered a model for valuing the contribution of home cultures and was a particularly good way of supporting the language skills and confidence of both children and parents. The video recordings produced were a powerful tool for learners to assess their progress.

There was potential within CETS for developing an extended schools approach. The evaluation recommends that in secondary schools, existing events such as parents' evenings are "piggy-backed" on in order to make contact with parents and find out what kind of learning interests them. There was strong potential to build on existing partnerships, making more explicit the role of organisations like Sure Start and moving to an LEA-wide strategic approach


Copies of this report can be obtained from: Family Learning, S. Norwood CET Centre, Sandown Road, London, SE25 4XE Tel: 020 8656 6620

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