Family Learning Tracey James from King Richard School in Portsmouth talks to the National Literacy Trust about how her school has involved parents in learning to improve their own and their children’s literacy. Key Strategy 1: Invite parents in to celebrate their child’s learning •There should be no negative comments at all. •Celebrate their progress, no matter how small. • Parents might be surprised to be invited, as often they are only called if their child has done something wrong. Key Strategy 2 Use different forms of communication • Use as many ways as possible to communicate with parents. • For example, King Richard School sent letters, phoned home, promoted it in their school bulletin and on their website. Key Strategy 3 Make parents feel welcome! • Create an environment that is informal, friendly and nonjudgemental. Provide tea and coffee. Use first names. • Talk to all of them. • Create an adult space or grown up area such as the kitchen area. • Accommodate younger siblings by creating a toy area. • Use incentives such as free books and shopping vouchers. Key Strategy 4 Develop a routine for when parents attend family learning sessions •For example, King Richard School uses a settler, recap, main activity and application activity. •The application hands learning over to the parents and child, giving them a chance to work together and the teacher a chance to talk with parents 1:1. •Create an equal partnership. Key Strategy 5 Provide parents with training to support their students in class • Establish links with the local colleges who can provide support in the development of training materials. • Tracey used her Functional Skills training and previous experience to train her parents in Paired Reading, using her links with the Basic Skills Agency an NIACE. • Visit this website for further information http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/adult_literacy/adult_liter acy_help Key Strategy 6 Develop a menu of parent learning classes • Once parents are comfortable in the learning environment, use the family learning time as a springboard to other adult training. • For example, King Richard School used the success of the family learning English lesson to introduce paired parental reading and then adult literacy and ESOL classes. Key Strategy 7 Think about which books you offer to both adults and parents. •Quick Reads are short books by best selling authors and celebrities that are designed to support reluctant older readers who find reading tough. •To find out more, visit www.quickreads.org.uk http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quick_Reads_Initiative Key Strategy 8 Be discrete when bringing in parents, particularly with older students • Some students can feel embarrassed and/or singled out at first. As the process becomes more regular, parents being invited in to school will become expected and usual. • In King Richard School, most students’ behaviour improved when parents were in and the students felt proud. Key Strategy 9 Whole school support is essential! • For example, the Head Teacher at King Richard School has provided a room for the family learning centre that has a kitchen and toilets close by. • Staff have also donated books and toys. • Time has been given to set up the programmes. • Training has been provided for staff. Key Strategy 10 Invest in the school’s support team • Provide staff with training in how to spot adults with literacy issues. • Provide staff with training about the programme/s so that the menu of what’s on offer can grow and break the cycle of low literacy and aspiration.