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‘ Effective and inclusive practices in family literacy, language and numeracy’ Professor Greg Brooks and Dr Kate Pahl University of Sheffield, England.

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Presentation on theme: "‘ Effective and inclusive practices in family literacy, language and numeracy’ Professor Greg Brooks and Dr Kate Pahl University of Sheffield, England."— Presentation transcript:

1 ‘ Effective and inclusive practices in family literacy, language and numeracy’ Professor Greg Brooks and Dr Kate Pahl University of Sheffield, England

2 Context and aims Context Commissioned by CfBT Education Trust Funded by CfBT Education Trust & National Research and Development Centre for adult literacy and numeracy

3 Origins of project Ran from April 2005 to December 2006. Delivered as a collaboration between researchers at the Institute of Education, University of London, at Lancaster University and at the University of Sheffield

4 Qualitative and quantitative review = meta-study A ‘meta-study’ was taken to include a quantitative and qualitative review, based on studies exhibiting a wider range of research designs than would contribute to a systematic review. This review was carried out entirely by researchers at the University of Sheffield (Brooks and Pahl)

5 Meta-study Aims conduct UK-wide & international review of family literacy, language and numeracy (FLLN) programmes and practice develop international perspective on effective practices in FLLN identify criteria for promising practice and models of inclusive and diverse FLLN delivery for wide dissemination

6 Meta-study Scope used evidence from Britain, Canada, Germany, Nepal, New Zealand, South Africa, Turkey, Uganda, the USA, and PEFaL initiative led by Malta which also involved Belgium, England, Italy, Lithuania and Romania

7 Meta-study Inclusive definition of ‘family’ Inclusive definitions of literacy, oracy and numeracy Holistic & community approaches Formal & informal learning Respect for learners’ first languages

8 Values, Beliefs, Epistemologies

9 Research questions How can we define FLLN programmes? What are the key debates within the field? What values and body of knowledge under-pin family literacy, numeracy and language? Whose voices do we hear? How effective are FLLN programmes?

10 Definitions of FLLN programmes Distinction between FLLN programmes and literacy, numeracy and language practices Family literacy programmes work with parents and their children to improve the literacy skills of both. On occasions other family members, such as grandparents, brothers and sisters, may be involved

11 Key debates The ‘cycle’ of intergenerational under- achievement Whose version of literacy/numeracy? ‘School’ literacy/numeracy versus home literacies/numeracies Whose languages are drawn upon in FLLN? Whose version of ‘the family’ is salient?

12 The intergenerational cycle The rationale for family literacy in Britain started by drawing on longitudinal data sets In 1993, ALBSU commissioned research into the links between parents’ literacy difficulties and their children’s literacy achievements drawing on the National Child Development Study The study found that children of parents who reported having literacy difficulties were around twice as likely as others to be in the lowest quartile nationally on reading test scores

13 Hannon’s critique Hannon, however, urged caution in over- readily drawing conclusions about a direct correlation between an increase in literacy levels in parents’ skills and a consequent increase in children’s literacy.

14 Also … The context provided by parents and their consistent support may be more important than any transfer of skills (Auerbach) And yet … It is probably safe to conclude that the parental involvement form of family literacy benefits children’s literacy (Hannon)

15 Literacy practices within families Literacy as a social practice; literacy practices within families Funds of knowledge in families Communicative practices in families

16 Values and epistemologies Family literacy, language and numeracy practices can be understood as being multiple, in that they involve many generations; and multiple languages are involved when families make meaning (Pahl 2006)

17 Values and epistemologies Families bring creativity to these multiple practices. They tell stories, create texts and artefacts, and give children space when they listen to them and support their meaning making with words and numbers.

18 Values and epistemologies By building on families’ strengths, as Zentella has suggested, families’ cultural resources can grow Many practitioners already do this, and this should be celebrated

19 Quantitative findings Benefits for parents’ skills reported from test data literacy: 3 one-group studies (Family literacy demonstration programmes, Family literacy for new groups, Family literacy and numeracy in prisons) but 2 others reported no benefit over control groups (Even Start, PeFAL)

20 Quantitative findings, cont. Benefits for parents’ skills reported from test data language: 2 studies (Early Start, FLAME) numeracy: 2 studies (Family numeracy pilot programmes, Family literacy and numeracy in prisons)

21 Parents’ ability to help their children’s education Benefits reported by eight studies: Bookstart in Birmingham Early Start (BSA) Family literacy demonstration programmes (BSA) Family literacy for new groups (BSA) Family literacy and numeracy in prisons (BSA) Family numeracy pilot programmes (BSA) FLAME in Chicago Ħilti clubs in Malta

22 Wider benefits for parents Mothers’ child-rearing practices (AÇEV, PEEP) Parents’ employment (Family literacy demonstration programmes, Early Start) Parents’ self-confidence (AÇEV, Family numeracy pilot programmes, Early Start, Ħilti clubs)

23 Wider benefits for parents, cont. Parents being more involved with their children’s schools (AÇEV, Family numeracy pilot programmes, Family literacy demonstration programmes, FLAME, Ħilti clubs) Further study (Family literacy demonstration programmes, Early Start)

24 Benefits for children’s skills reported from test data literacy: 12 studies language: 8 studies numeracy: 6 studies 7 studies gathered follow-up data; almost all showed benefits had been sustained

25 Caveats Evidence of benefits to parents’ skills is very thin No quantitative studies have yet been carried out into whether: parents in FLLN programmes make better progress than they would in stand-alone adult basic education programmes some approaches to family literacy or language or numeracy are more successful than others

26 The qualitative study: international evidence The criteria for selecting the studies included: Programmes which valued home literacies, languages and numeracies Programmes which took an inclusive approach to community literacies Programmes that developed a number of community partnerships

27 The qualitative study: international evidence, cont. Programmes which had a high impact on participants, recorded either qualitatively or quantitatively Programmes that were clearly described and well defined and had undertaken some evaluative strategies

28 Some threads and themes Multimodal forms of delivery and evaluation evident, drawing on a multiple range of modes to deliver programmes, e.g. digital storytelling in Hamburg Evaluation through visual methods and oral storytelling in some contexts, e.g. S. Africa

29 Threads and themes, cont. Link between indigenous practices and provision common across many programmes, e.g. Uganda, Chicago Home language practices. In some contexts, e.g. Southern States of US, Nepal, this was contentious in relation to community languages, e.g. Spanish

30 Threads and themes, cont. School readiness. Some programmes, e.g. AÇEV in Turkey and Verizon in California, oriented parents towards preparing their children for school Community empowerment model common - parents supported to deliver training (e.g. FLAME, Chicago), link to wider benefits such as health in Nepal and Canada Link to support for parenting in Turkey and Canada

31 Future directions Programmes are moving towards a more holistic view of family literacy, language and numeracy that acknowledges the way in which women are positioned within families, and many of the programmes focus on women’s goals in changing their lives Fathers in family literacy were still relatively absent. One notable exception is the father education programme in Turkey

32 Conclusions The FLLN field in England and Wales is vibrant, and more varied than ever before. It has also: Provided inspiration for some of the increasing number of interesting and effective programmes elsewhere in the world Contributed at home to parents’, especially mothers’, empowerment through learning, and improved children’s educational prospects

33 Some concerns The Basic Skills Agency led research and development in the field in both England and Wales in the mid and late 1990s, and has continued to do so in Wales In England its role has now diminished and not been taken up in full by any other organisation Leadership for the field remains a pressing issue Funding for children’s participation remains a hazy area

34 Current practice Provision in England through local authorities and the private, charitable and voluntary sectors is excellent in some places and patchy in others The role of local authorities remains critical in shaping and delivering policy and practice Flagship local authorities can lead the way in listening to families, taking account of their linguistic and cultural resources, and developing a framework for delivery

35 Community-focused provision The strength of many UK programmes lies in the complex, community-focused partnerships they encouraged: Initiatives such as Shared Beginnings worked at grassroots level to encourage book sharing with young children Local Sure Start initiatives reached across different agencies to work together

36 Where next? Need to include a research-led focus to programmes Visibility of epistemological stance was found in programmes such as AÇEV in Turkey and FLAME in Chicago, where university researchers were closely involved with the projects Policy development and leadership needed in UK


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