Supporting family learning with community-based initiatives and the third sector in education: what lessons can be learned from dedicated family engagement programmes?

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Within Education, recent documentation and guidance from the Scottish Government, including Getting it Right for Every Child (Scottish Government, 2008) and Building the Ambition (Scottish Government, 2014), has promoted family learning as a means to building sustainability within Scotland's communities, and increasingly, this has been developed in conjunction with the charities and third sector (for example, via the FAST initiative developed by Middlesex University and now used worldwide: McDonald et al. 2012) and community-based programmes. Such modes of partnership are particularly important given the current economic and social climate whereby funding is expected to be cut following the UK's removal from the European Union, as well as Scotland's priorities in the National Improvement Framework to improve and close the gap in attainment in literacy and numeracy. This paper will debate how family learning is defined and operates within two particular case studies: the first will consider 'Families Connect', which is a programme developed by Save the Children to support parents and carers, focusing on social and emotional development, and where training has been delivered to practitioners and probationary teachers. The second case study will outline salient findings from a questionnaire and interview survey of community-based practitioners about their understandings of family learning processes for a particular project: the 'Pizza Reading and Numeracy Programme', which aims to build trust and rapport with vulnerable families prior to undertaking adult-based literacy and numeracy initiatives. Findings indicate that target-based approaches can support family learning as border pedagogy where all members of the community are involved. It is anticipated that the findings of this research will enable debate around how particular forms of knowledge about family learning come to dominate and mater in the field of third sector and community learning and development.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2017
EventScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference : Educational Futures in a Changing Landscape: Bridging Boundaries or "Mind the Gap"? - University of the West of Scotland, Ayr, United Kingdom
Duration: 22 Nov 201724 Nov 2017


ConferenceScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleSERA Conference 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • family learning
  • third sector
  • social and emotional development
  • community-based practice


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