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Family Learning in Ireland. Mary Flanagan Co-ordinator Clare Family Learning Project. What is Family Learning?. Denny Taylor first coined the term ‘Family Literacy’1983. Literacy happening in the home

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family learning in ireland

Family Learning in Ireland

Mary Flanagan


Clare Family Learning Project

Clare Family Learning Project 2009

what is family learning
What is Family Learning?
  • Denny Taylor first coined the term ‘Family Literacy’1983. Literacy happening in the home
  • Andrea Mearing in UK suggested the phrase Family Learning: 1996. Wider context including programmes aimed at disadvantaged parents and their children. Literacy and numeracy

Clare Family Learning Project 2009

  • Family Learning is an umbrella term which describes a wide variety of educational intervention programmes that have an intergenerational focus in their design and delivery
  • Mainly parent only programmes in Ireland
  • Some parent and child together

Clare Family Learning Project 2009

key points
Key Points
  • Parents are the first and most natural teachers of their children
  • The home is a very valuable learning place
  • The parental involvement on a child’s learning is eight times more important than any other factor, such as occupation of parent, in increasing a child’s achievement in school’(Feinstein and Symons 1999:51)
  • Building social networks for parents
  • Encouraging parents to become Lifelong Learners

Clare Family Learning Project 2009

clare family learning was based on
Clare Family Learning was based on
  • Basic Skills Agency Articles in Viewpoint 1994
  • Visit to Dr. Peter Hannon, Sheffield University. ORIM framework. Clare added numeracy
  • Kenan Model in Kentucky, USA
  • Research by Vygotsky and Bruner

Clare Family Learning Project 2009

  • Clare recognised the potential of Family Learning
  • Took into account a wider approach
  • Emphasis on practical activities, notion of play
  • Likelihood of further participation

Clare Family Learning Project 2009

clare family learning project
Responding to parents requests in 1994

Piloted programmes

Emerging skills

Homework help

Moving on

Developed Pack 2000

National Dissemination using Tutor Training


Department of Education

International Year of the Family

Private US foundation

EU Horizon, Integra

Clare Family Learning Project

Clare Family Learning Project 2009

range of programmes in clare
Parents of 0-7 year olds

Parents of Primary children

Parents of 2nd level children, First Years

2 locally developed FETAC Level 3 modules Family Learning

Dads and Lads Sport

Dads and Lads Science

Active Citizenship


Quilts and Books

FL and Irish

Supporting Your First Year Child’s Maths

Family Health

Range of Programmes in Clare

Clare Family Learning Project 2009

family learning in ireland1
Family Learning in Ireland
  • Working Together Approaches to Family Literacy : 2004
  • Vocational Education Committees VECs
  • Area Development Management ADMs
  • Home School Community Liaison Teachers
  • Lifestart Project - various counties
  • Read to Succeed - various counties
  • Banagher Project - Transition to 2nd Level
  • Libraries - Storybags - various counties
  • Community Development Initiatives

Clare Family Learning Project 2009

who benefits
Who Benefits?
  • 2 for 1 Strategy: Parent and Child
  • 3 for 1 Strategy: Parent, Child and Community

Clare Family Learning Project 2009

outcomes for learners
Outcomes for Learners
  • Positive attitude to their children’s schooling - increasing childrens’ chance of achievement in school, staying in school
  • Progression onto other options
  • More confident in coming to class
  • Increased interest, willingness and ability to learn
  • Building confidence through small successes - gives hope
  • Good social networks and friendships

Clare Family Learning Project 2009

barriers for learners attending
Barriers for learners attending
  • Negative experiences of education to date
  • Difficult home life
  • Extreme poverty
  • Lack of confidence
  • Fear
  • Shift work
  • Lack of childminding facilities
  • Costs

Clare Family Learning Project 2009

what makes a family learning programme successful
What makes a Family Learning Programme Successful?
  • Partnership
  • Informal / non formal structure
  • Interesting topics - Meeting the needs of groups
  • Building on existing knowledge of learners
  • Practical activities
  • Nurturing parents learning then they in turn can help their children learn
  • Experienced and well trained tutors
  • Flexible provision, times, locations

Clare Family Learning Project 2009


The Clare Family Learning Project




Family Literacy


Wider Family Learning


  • Family Learning Pack produced
  • Small booklet produced
  • Pilots run countywide
  • Focus on early years
  • Huge potential for growth
  • To reach those least likely to engage in education
  • New developments
  • Wide variety of programmes to meet the diverse needs of our learning community
  • Portable, affordable and adaptable

Clare Family Learning Project 2009

  • Schools recognise the benefits of parental involvement
  • Community groups: Use of premises, Use FL tutors, can provide link people
  • Health Service Executive: PFLAG
  • Social Services: Social Workers
  • Libraries: Use of premises
  • Network meetings used to promote work
  • Common Denominator is Family Learning

Clare Family Learning Project 2009

government recognition
Government Recognition
  • White Paper Learning for Life :2000 -innovative way of delivering adult education
  • Oireachtas Report :2006 -Recommends dedicated Family Learning Budget
  • Towards 2016:2006 - Provision of learning opportunities for vulnerable groups, disadvantaged communities. Measures to increase retention in school, and reduce literacy, numeracy problems.

Clare Family Learning Project 2009

  • Identify best practice and disseminate
  • Retain non formal flexibility, positive experiences
  • Ability to respond to local needs
  • Respect for where learners are at
  • Build further links with schools
  • Develop Family Learning programme to support parents of special needs children
  • Continue to train tutors nationally
  • Develop resources for range of FL courses
  • Empower parents to choose learning, not impose it

Clare Family Learning Project 2009

wider benefits of fl
Wider Benefits of FL
  • Likelihood of continuation in education
  • Increased parent child interaction on literacy and numeracy activities
  • FL now linked with English Language for Parents of Primary and Second Level
  • Cultural Integration of Migrants
  • More active citizens in communities

Clare Family Learning Project 2009

vision for family learning
Vision for Family Learning
  • Parents attracted to it naturally
  • Extend promotion of programmes(start small)
  • National quarterly family learning newsletter:
    • to bring together Family Learning best practice, resources, materials and events
  • Clare Tutor Training check under news

Clare Family Learning Project 2009