2 Foreword Literacy is an essential skill to enable people to participate fully in society. The Government is determined to boost literacy levels - improving literacy means improving people s life chances. Literacy isn t just taught in schools. We need to work not only through primary and secondary school education but in arts and sports activities and in the criminal justice system - and not only with children and young adults but with their parents and their communities. This booklet shows how different organisations, including local authorities, can work together to develop community literacy strategies, to support schools and to contribute to our shared priorities for literacy. I would like to thank the National Literacy Trust and the Basic Skills Agency for their Literacy and Social Inclusion Project, out of which this handbook has developed. I believe it will prove an invaluable resource. David Miliband MP, Minister of Communities and Local Government, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister This handbook is the result of a three-year project, funded by the Basic Skills Agency and delivered for us by the National Literacy Trust. It will be of interest and practical use to those involved in planning and developing local services, including education. It will also support individual services as they consider their own role in supporting literacy approaches that address long-term barriers and solutions to improved service delivery and community involvement. The examples highlight once again the importance of establishing strong literacy skills early. They reinforce the case for involving parents, raising aspirations and offering opportunities at all ages for people to improve their literacy, alongside measures that address social exclusion directly. The focus on sustained local strategies, and shared responsibility for local priorities, provides the policy backdrop. Alan Wells, Director, The Basic Skills Agency
3 Contents Introduction 3 Developing a community literacy strategy 4 10-point Checklist 7 Every Child Matters 9 Early years 11 Primary schools 15 Secondary sector 19 Post-16 sector 23 Cultural sector and sport 27 Criminal justice system 31 Summary 34 Acknowledgements We are very grateful to the following people who have made helpful comments and suggestions: Sam Brookes, Christina Clark, Neil McClelland and Julia Strong from the National Literacy Trust; Carol Taylor from the Basic Skills Agency and Agency consultants Elizabeth Jarman and Theresa Latham; Anita Wright from Woodmansterne Primary School; Rebecca Linley from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council; and Steve Taylor from the Forum on Prisoner Education. We would also like to thank those who have contributed to the case studies. Lack of space means we cannot name them individually, but their contact details, and more information about the initiatives, research and policies mentioned in the handbook can be seen at
4 3 Introduction This handbook will be of use to those involved in planning and developing local services, including education. The focus on sustained local strategies, and shared responsibility for local priorities, provides the policy backdrop for individual service areas to consider their own role in supporting literacy approaches that address long-term barriers and solutions to improved service delivery and community involvement. Literacy is not a single concept and includes speaking and listening as well as reading and writing. Clearly, schools have a very important role in teaching literacy skills. However, the acquisition of good literacy skills is not relation to a schools or even just an education issue: acquiring literacy competence is also affected by individuals families, their attitudes and their social and economic circumstances. If we are to help build individual capabilities from an early age, we need to support and strengthen families, and to consider ways of improving the skills of those who tend not to use services as much as others do. The handbook developed out of the three-year Literacy and Social Inclusion Project, a partnership between the Basic Skills Agency and the National Literacy Trust. Our consultation events during the early stages of the project involved many different policy and practice areas across the age range. A number of issues emerged that affected service delivery across the board: the need to address language competence (even for first language speakers), staff attitudes towards literacy, the importance of family learning and partnerships, and the challenge of funding for long-term approaches. Over the course of the project, a substantial evidence base has been developed 1. The handbook offers some practical solutions to the challenges identified during the project, illustrating the contribution of partner institutions within the national policy framework. Chapter one of the handbook describes how to develop a community literacy strategy, showing the collaborative literacy process, a 10-point checklist and intended outcomes for individuals, families and communities. Chapter two makes the case for a community literacy strand to support the implementation of Every Child Matters: Change for Children. Each subsequent chapter of the handbook relates to different sectors primary; secondary; post-16; the cultural sector and sport; and criminal justice and follows a similar pattern. Each chapter provides the context and key research evidence, Government policies that relate to literacy and social inclusion, and one or more case studies (some drawn from field visits). All the case studies illustrate aspects of effective partnerships that can contribute to a community literacy strategy. Where initiatives are mentioned in more than one place, it is because they illustrate different points. While each chapter can be read on its own, there is a lot of cross-referencing to other pages, providing further exemplification and ideas for partnership working. Note: the term parents in this handbook refers to parents, grandparents and any other carer that a child may have. 1 V. Bird and R. Akerman (2005) Every which way we can: a Literacy and Social Inclusion Position Paper, London: National Literacy Trust.
5 Developing a community literacy strategy Developing a community literacy strategy 4 The Literacy and Social Inclusion position paper Every which way we can concludes that a community literacy strategy would help policymakers to see literacy as an intergenerational issue that cuts across, and brings benefits to, a number of policy areas. Community literacy approaches provide informal learning opportunities for families and individuals. They take place in a choice of community settings, and demonstrate the fun of learning and the benefits of literacy skills acquisition to people s lives. Such approaches recognise that to change an individual s perception of himself or herself as a learner can take time. What would a community literacy strategy need to include? In the early years, the focus would be to help very young children become confident communicators, familiar with rhymes, stories and books. Parenting support, a feature of Every Child Matters: Change for Children, would include helping parents play their part in their child s literacy development; this needs to be handled sensitively, drawing on the expertise of adult educators and family literacy professionals. Children of all ages need exciting book and reading experiences to help them become confident readers. Young people, whose poor literacy has contributed to, or results from, low self-esteem or disaffection, need informal learning opportunities that include, at the appropriate stage, a literacy skills dimension. Community literacy approaches provide informal learning opportunities for families and individuals. They take place in a choice of community settings, and demonstrate the fun of learning and the benefits of literacy skills acquisition to people s lives. A community literacy strategy would aim to engage in learning parents and other adults particularly at risk from their poor literacy skills. Those from some ethnic minority communities, including asylum seekers and refugees, are part of this group. Partnerships with health and housing agencies, community groups and employers provide access to these individuals through trusted intermediaries, and help to raise the profile of learning through taster events and celebrations of achievement. Awareness training for those who can give a helping hand develops their confidence in how to raise literacy issues among those with low skill levels. A community literacy strategy would support schools and other learning institutions in raising literacy standards for all. It would also contribute to the targets of many different service areas working with individuals who have poor literacy skills and are already, or are at risk of being, socially excluded. It would support community involvement objectives, mentioned in the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit s Toolkit of Indicators. The strategy also needs to link to many of the shared priorities that have been agreed between national and local government: Raising standards across schools Improving the quality of life of children, young people and families at risk, and older people Promoting healthier communities by targeting key local services, such as health and housing Creating safer and stronger communities Transforming the local environment Meeting transport needs more effectively Promoting the economic vitality of localities There are many examples on the Literacy and Social Inclusion website of community literacy activity that supports social inclusion objectives. However, sustained approaches connected to wider strategies are needed, rather than single-stranded initiatives. Some local authorities and Learning and Skills Councils are developing strategic approaches to community literacy, within the context of national and local policy frameworks, as part of their plans to improve children s life chances, raise school standards and improve Every Child Matters: p.9 Ë Toolkit of Indicators: p.25 Ë
6 5 EIPs and the 14 to 19 agenda: p.21 Ë Learning and Skills Council: p.25 Ë Training Providers Network: p.26 Ë employability. In partnership with schools, the voluntary and community sector, public libraries, museums and sports clubs have found creative ways of addressing poor language and literacy, disaffection and low self-esteem among those with most to gain from improved skills. One of the continuing challenges for those developing community literacy provision is funding. It takes time to build interest and confidence among those with negative experiences of education and develop the partnerships to provide interesting and enjoyable learning experiences. Pooling resources would support this work and help to fund a local coordinator to work across sectors, enlisting support from one or more of the bodies mentioned below. There are a number of strategic bodies with influence and access to funds to support the development of a community literacy strategy: Local Strategic Partnerships are multi-agency bodies, matching local authority boundaries and tackling multi-faceted problems, including low educational achievement and unemployment. They allocate Government money for community regeneration, for example from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund. Education Improvement Partnerships (EIPs), driven by the local education service, promote collaboration between schools to provide support for school improvement, personalised learning and delivering the Every Child Matters outcomes. EIPs will act as a hub for family learning and community partnership activities. They are also relevant to the 14 to 19 curriculum and the development of extended services. The Learning and Skills Council provides funding for adult skills learning, including family programmes for children and parents. Learning Partnerships represent local post-16 learning providers and provide a link with Learning and Skills Councils. Training provider networks have been set up in some areas specifically to represent the voluntary and community sector. Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) promote sustainable economic development in England and help to reduce social and economic disparities within and between regions. Government Offices in the Regions (GOs) take a cross-departmental perspective, and oversee budgets and contracts delegated to regional organisations, including regulating and sponsoring RDAs. There are nine GOs, each headed by a director. GOVERNMENT TARGETS Tackle social exclusion and deliver neighbourhood renewal, narrowing the gap in health, education, crime, worklessness, housing and liveability outcomes between the most deprived areas and the rest of England, with measurable improvement by 2010 The diagram and checklists that follow illustrate a collaborative literacy process that will inform and guide the development of a community literacy strategy, contributing to local plans within and outside the education service.
7 Collaborative literacy process The diagram below illustrates one approach planners can take, working with partners to raise awareness of the language and literacy dimension that contributes to successful service delivery 2. Adopting this process will lead to a shared understanding of different service priorities, and how a literacy input can help meet service targets and agreement on a long-term delivery programme. The checklist helps planners engage in a dialogue about literacy that links formal and informal support for all ages, leading to the development of a community literacy strategy that is clearly tied in to local priorities and plans. Finally, a list of intended outcomes is provided for individuals of all ages, for families and for communities that can be cross-referenced with the shared priorities above, and Government targets highlighted on other pages. Developing a community literacy strategy 6 Partner dialogue What are the language and literacy issues around service delivery and targets? Consultation with service users What are their concerns and interests? Initial dialogue around literacy Feedback to partner organisations Shared priorities and goals Pooled resources Money, expertise, staff, venue, coordination Delivery programme (min. 3 years) What are the aims for children, young people, parents and other adults? What are the desired community outcomes? Regular review and partner dialogue Evaluation Criteria for success Outputs for children, young people and parents/other adults Contribution to service goals and shared priorities 2 The collaborative literacy process represents a development of the Model for building parental skills described in Every which way we can, Bird and Akerman (2005).
8 7 10-point checklist Which priority needs have been identified for at-risk individuals or 1. groups of all ages? Is additional literacy support needed? Are all children and young people offered curricular and out-of-school 2. opportunities to develop their confidence and pleasure in reading and writing? Are at-risk individuals targeted to ensure they benefit? Do individual records of children and young people show details of 3. extra-curricular literacy support, and their literacy progress? Do children and young people get support and encouragement to develop 4. their literacy skills at home? If not, how can they be helped? Are home languages valued as well as English? Do parenting programmes include a literacy dimension? What more 5. could be done to maximise participation, especially among parents with low skills levels and those who speak other languages? How are parents, low-skilled workers and those seeking work 6. encouraged to improve their literacy and other skills, and achieve nationally recognised qualifications? Have local partners been identified who could provide motivation, 7. interest, expertise or other support to meet the needs and interests of at-risk individuals of all ages? Is sufficient time given to develop partnership work and train staff so 8. that there is a shared understanding of, and agreement on, goals and funding? Have adults whose paid or voluntary work brings them into contact 9. with at-risk children, young people and adults, been trained to identify and support their literacy needs? Is additional literacy support part of a community literacy strategy 10. that is built into local plans?
9 Intended outcomes For individuals of all ages Increased confidence Motivation to learn or engage in literacy activities Attendance and (for young people and adults) retention in learning programmes Raised educational outcomes, achievement in national qualifications or literacy levels (including oral communication skills) Employment, further education or training Volunteering or involvement in community activities Developing a community literacy strategy 8 For families Parental confidence around literacy Parenting skills Literacy activity in the home and community Expectations of achievement For communities Improved educational outcomes or staying on in education Improved behaviour and attendance Reduction in crime Improved employability or employment Positive health outcomes Participation in sport; use of cultural and community facilities, including libraries Active community engagement, including volunteering Some national literacy promotions The impact of local publicity for literacy events or celebrations is heightened when they link to national promotions. For a full list see Adult Learners Week Black History Month Family Learning Week The National Reading Campaign RaW (Reading and Writing the BBC s adult literacy campaign) Talk To Your Baby World Book Day
10 9 Every Child Matters Any local authority or other organisation thinking of implementing a community literacy strategy needs to do so in the context of Every Child Matters: Change for Children, and its legislative base, the Children Act This sets out the national framework for significant reforms aimed at improving children s care and life chances. It will impact on universal services for all children and young people up to the age of 19, and more targeted services for those with additional needs. The appointment of a Children s Commissioner for England is intended to give children and young people a voice in the process, in particular putting forward the views of the most vulnerable. Every Child Matters (ECM) identifies five outcomes needed to improve well-being in childhood and later life: being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution, and achieving economic well-being. Research studies show that having good literacy skills is a protective factor against later social exclusion. A high-quality home learning environment is key to providing the foundations for later achievement 3. However, where parents themselves have not experienced the pleasures of reading and being read to, they may not attach great value to it. They may see reading with their child either as too difficult, because they lack confidence or time, or they see it as a chore. Some will need a lot of encouragement to believe they can make a difference to their children s developing literacy skills. Long-term research evidence 4 shows that having poor reading skills at age 10 has an impact on adult outcomes, especially for individuals at high risk of social exclusion from other factors. By the age of 16, over half of boys with poor reading skills thought school was a waste of time and nearly four in five wanted to leave as soon as possible. Having poor basic skills also affects individuals health-related practices; while not causing ill-health, it does restrict access to information about healthy living. Literacy support systems are needed within and beyond the curriculum. This is particularly important for children in care, who underachieve nationally, but also relevant for vulnerable children and their families. A community literacy strand within the local authority s Children and Young People s Plan would provide the mechanism for such systems. This would mean joint training and partnerships between schools, youth services, family learning practitioners, libraries, the voluntary and community sector and post-16 learning providers. 3 K. Sylva, E. Melhuish, P. Sammons, I. Siraj-Blatchford and B. Taggart (2004) Effective provision of pre-school education (EPPE) project: Final Report, London: Department for Education and Skills. 4 S. Parsons and J. Bynner (2002) Basic Skills and Social Exclusion, London: The Basic Skills Agency.
11 Every Child Matters 10 The policy background Children s trusts are being set up in each local area to provide more streamlined services for children and families. In each local authority, the new children s services director and the lead member provide the professional and political focus for children s services. The children s services director leads local change, bringing together education and children s social services, while the lead member is expected to help engage local communities in this process. This new remit fits alongside their key local authority responsibilities, including the improvement of school standards in the context of the New Relationship with Schools. Supporting parents: also see the Early Years, Primary and Secondary sector pages New Relationship with Schools: p.21 Ë Extended schools: p.16 & 17 Ë Extended services for children, families and the community are increasingly being offered via extended schools, and are seen as one of the ways schools can help children and young people keep fit and healthy, enjoy life and achieve. Extended schools therefore have a contributory role to the ECM agenda, as well as to the school improvement agenda. Case study: Strategic support for family learning in Croydon Family learning has a high profile across Croydon Council, as a result of being one of the pilot authorities for the Skills for Families national programme. A cross-department steering group brought together representatives from early years services, the Pre-school Learning Alliance, Sure Start, schools, libraries and adult basic skills, as well as the Learning and Skills Council. This group has raised the profile of family learning and helped the borough s Family Learning Forum to take on a more strategic role with a wider membership, including social services. Awarenessraising sessions have increased understanding of the benefits family learning can bring, and also led to joint programmes with libraries and museums. With cross-sector support, learning champions on the ground, Step in to Learning training for front-line staff, and the Skills for Families coordinator providing input at local authority strategy level, the infrastructure is now in place to ensure that family learning has a strong part to play in the development of the children s trust, extended schools and the expansion of children s centres in Croydon. Case study: Partnership working in Lancashire NE1 4 Reading (text speak for Anyone for Reading ) is a partnership between Lancashire County Council social services and the library service, which aims to encourage young people in care homes to enjoy reading for fun. Awareness-raising training for librarians and residential social workers is built into the project. A young person s librarian makes regular visits to all 15 care homes in the county, bringing a selection of magazines to capture young people s interest, and a range of books from the library, including books that might help them with their coursework. There are opportunities to discuss the books, and to take part in other activities and informal workshops, for example with poets, to motivate the young people to write creatively. In addition, each care home receives a collection of 80 books with teenager appeal, which the young people are able to borrow. Social services mainstream funding pays for the librarian to work two days a week on the project. The Education of Looked-After Children Team provided funding for the books, a literacy coordinator and event support. The library service donates some books and provides the worker and additional consultancy. The Youth and Community Service is also a partner. Croydon s family learning work with libraries and museums: p.29ë Step in to Learning: p.13 Ë Sure Start: p.12 Ë Learning and Skills Council: p.25 Ë Young people: see the Secondary sector pages Ë Libraries: also see the Cultural sector and sport pages Ë
13 Early Years 12 Evidence from research shows that when parents talk and sing to children, share books and take them to the library, they help children to develop important early literacy skills. These activities have been shown to have more effect on the child s educational outcomes than parents social class and education 5. When parents in a study undertook the activities as part of a family literacy programme, their children made significantly greater progress in their learning than children in a comparison group, and had higher self-esteem in regard to their abilities 6. A long-term study in the US showed that the greatest predictor of children s literacy development was support for literacy in the home particularly sharing books, talking at mealtimes and chatting about things beyond the here and now 7. However, the stress of daily life, and problems associated with poverty, unemployment, inadequate housing, family breakdown and poor health can mean that chatting together and reading for pleasure are seen as luxuries. Some parents may themselves have low levels of literacy, and so feel unable to support their children s literacy. Those who speak other languages may find it hard to support their children s English. Helping parents realise the important role they can play, even if their literacy skills are limited, is therefore vital for early years practitioners. Activities that equip parents to do this can increase their confidence and also provide an opportunity to improve their own skills. GOVERNMENT TARGETS Improve children s communication, social and emotional development so that by 2008, 50 per cent of children reach a good level of development at the end of the Foundation Stage Reduce inequalities between the level of development achieved by children in the 20 per cent most disadvantaged areas and the rest of England The policy background Tackling disadvantage in the early years is a major focus of Government policy. The 2003 Green Paper, Every Child Matters, proposed a range of measures to reform and improve children s care. The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners (2004) makes the following proposals for early years provision: All parents receive one-stop support through children s centres that provide childcare, education, health, employment and parenting support - a development of the Sure Start local programmes concept A flexible system of educare (education and childcare) provides 12½ hours free support per week for three and four-year-olds Dawn-to-dusk schools provide breakfast childcare and after-school clubs Children s trusts bring together services for children and families in each local area, making sure children at risk get proper care, education and protection Sure Start has been run through local programmes in the most deprived regions of England, and its principles are being applied to all services for children and parents. It aims to achieve better outcomes for children, parents and communities by increasing the availability of childcare for all children, improving health and emotional development for young children, and supporting parents as parents and in their aspirations towards employment. The Bookstart scheme, funded by the Sure Start Unit and in partnership with health visitors and public libraries, gives every baby a pack of books at age nine months, 18 months and three years, with advice for parents on sharing books, information about libraries and an invitation to join. Voluntary sector support for adults: p.26 Ë Communicating Matters is a joint venture between Sure Start, the Primary National Strategy and the DfES Special Educational Needs division. It aims to improve practice around language and communication, and practitioners knowledge in early years settings, through developing high quality training materials for practitioners. 5 Sylva et al (2004). 6 M. Evangelou and K. Sylva (2003) The Effects of the Peers Early Education Partnership (PEEP) on Children s Developmental Progress, London: Department for Education and Skills. 7 K. Roach and C. Snow (2000) What predicts 4th grade reading comprehension? In C. Snow (chair), Predicting 4th grade reading comprehension in a low-income population: The critical importance of social precursors from home and school during early childhood, New Orleans, Louisiana: symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association.
14 13 Every Child Matters: p.9 Á Crime prevention: also see the Criminal justice system pages Ë An example of voluntary sector partnership with health agencies: p.26 Ë Skills for Life: p.25 Ë Learning Champions in Croydon: p.10 Á Supporting parents: also see the Every Child Matters, Primary and Secondary sector pages Supporting parents Experience from successful projects shows that talking to parents personally, and visiting them at home, are effective ways of engaging their interest. Health visitors, who meet families at home as part of their role, can be a valuable support to parents in developing their children s early language. The nature of their service means that they can build up a trusting relationship with parents over time and, since it is universal, there is no stigma involved. Once there is a personal contact it is easier to identify parents needs. This contact may be through intermediaries other than health professionals, and may be a person with a formalised role, as in the case of Skills for Life Champions early years staff who encourage parents and colleagues to get involved in activities and think about skills improvement. All Sure Start local programmes and children s centres are being asked to nominate champions. However, intermediaries do not have to be professionals: parents who have already benefited from learning activities can be very effective at persuading others to join in. Sure Start funding has enabled the Rochdale-based M6 Theatre Company to develop exciting performances for the under-fives. One piece uses life-size puppets, which do not speak but tell a story through mime. This makes it easier for children with little English to understand, and helps them participate in teacher-led discussions and follow-up activities. The parents who come forward to join in educational activities tend not to be those who are most in need of support. Therefore, while universal approaches may be generally successful, special effort needs to be made to include parents who might think that the activities are not for me. Evidence shows the importance of considering factors like the provision of transport and childcare, and the time of day that activities take place 8. Newsletters recorded on tape in community languages if necessary are a way of getting the message across. Engaging parents with little confidence needs to be planned and takes time. If one strategy fails, it is important to persist with others. Voluntary and community sector organisations such as the Pre-school Learning Alliance and the Peers Early Education Partnership (PEEP) run family literacy programmes and can support early years settings in establishing such schemes; many local organisations are also able to offer education and childcare. Talk To Your Baby, run by the National Literacy Trust, encourages parents and carers to talk more to young children, and provides advice and free resources on early language to support professionals and inform parents. The Basic Skills Agency produces Language and Play materials based around taught sessions for parents, including the importance of talk, sharing books and enjoying rhymes. The Raising Early Achievement in Literacy (REAL) Project, involving Sheffield Local Education Authority, the University of Sheffield and schools in the city, has developed the ORIM framework to help parents support their child s developing literacy skills: providing Opportunities for learning showing Recognition of the child s activities Interaction with the child on literacy activities providing a Model of a literacy user The Step in to Learning programme, part of the Skills for Life strategy, trains staff in early years settings to identify parents with basic skills needs and encourage them to take up local learning opportunities. It also encourages early years staff to improve their own skills including, where necessary, basic skills. The whole family can be made welcome in the early years setting: a pre-school library in one Sure Start local programme encourages the young siblings of nursery school children to borrow books. Staff also suggest ways in which parents can develop their children s language skills at home. 8 C. Sutton, D. Utting and D. Farrington (eds.) (2004) Support from the Start: Working with young children and their families to reduce the risks of crime and anti-social behaviour, London: Department for Education and Skills.
15 Early Years 14 Case Study: multi-agency working in Stoke on Trent Stoke Speaks Out (SSO) is a city-wide initiative, which aims to improve the language and communication skills of children and parents. It was developed when the area s Sure Start speech and language team found that the majority of children it tested had significant language delay on entry to nursery. City agencies recognised that poor language development and a lack of strong attachments between parents and children were part of a city-wide problem, including poor attainment in schools, poor employment prospects and low business development. A team was formed with representatives seconded from speech and language therapy, midwifery, special needs education, psychology, community development, the black and minority ethnic community and the LEA. Together they have written and deliver a training programme at five levels, with the aim of making speech and language relevant to all practitioners in contact with families. They also undertake awareness-raising for non-teaching staff, and for parents, in order to empower parents to build secure attachments with their children. Start Up is another initiative, which aims to raise parents awareness of local opportunities, and support them in skills development and training leading to employment. Traditionally, qualifications have not been valued in the local culture and their uptake has been lower than the national average. Start Up workers therefore contact parents, for example at the school gate, and visit them at home to talk about their aspirations. The workers have reported that parents primary needs are confidence-building and awareness-raising about the learning and employment available to them. Staff conduct a basic skills assessment and help participants engage with agencies such as Jobcentre Plus; they also persuade learning providers to run courses at community venues in practical subjects. Case study: Partnership with housing providers Shared Beginnings is a programme providing practical ways for parents to take an active role in developing their children s early language and literacy, through conversation, play, making and using books, and using local community resources. It is run by Reading Is Fundamental, UK (RIF), an initiative of the National Literacy Trust. As with all RIF projects, Shared Beginnings also provides opportunities for children to choose and keep three new books. Funding from the Chartered Institute of Housing, and partnership with housing providers, has led to courses being set up on housing estates in areas of deprivation. Parents in Newport reported that a Shared Beginnings course there had led to increased enjoyment in their child s development and increased confidence in setting routines, for example, combining nursery rhymes with teeth brushing. The course also had the benefit of introducing participants from the same community to one another. At the time that the programme began, the Chartered Institute of Housing s then president Brian Griffiths said: As advocates of change in marginalised and excluded communities, providers of affordable housing are enthusiastically embracing the broad principles of community development and neighbourhood renewal, but links between housing and literacy are something of an unknown quantity. If we are serious about social inclusion, we need to give pre-school children the best possible preparation for formal education. Stoke s work with Reading is Fundamental, UK: p.18 Ë Examples of work with Jobcentre Plus: p.25, 26, 29 Ë Example of work with young people in housing need: p.30 Ë Supporting adults: also see the Post-16 Sector pages Ë A former Sure Start local programme manager, seconded from a primary healthcare trust, is Start Up s project manager and also joint project manager for SSO. Both initiatives have Neighbourhood Renewal funding for two years, but are planning for the long term for example, the bid for Start Up was based around the Sure Start targets to reduce the number of workless households.
17 Primary Schools 16 The Primary National Strategy, which began in 2003, developed out of the National Literacy Strategy. Called Excellence and Enjoyment, the strategy aims to give children access to a broad and rich curriculum based on the building blocks of literacy and numeracy. Schools are partners in the Every Child Matters agenda, which aims to ensure that even the most vulnerable children are able to flourish. This may involve working in partnership with other local organisations such as health agencies. Children s speaking, reading and writing can be encouraged through partnerships with arts and cultural agencies, such as galleries, museums and libraries, and activities such as music and rap, drama and visual arts. Where children have literacy difficulties, research has shown that successful approaches include extra help in the form of skilled, intensive, one-to-one tuition, and working with an appropriately trained reading partner; working on children s self-esteem and reading in parallel may also be effective 9. Extended schools activities provide opportunities to offer additional reading and book experiences, for example through visiting authors and storytellers, out-of-hours reading clubs, trained reading buddies or adult volunteers. However, Government targets for extended schools relate only to childcare provision. Planners will need to ensure that the wider vision for extended schools enrichment activities and family learning is sustained in the drive to achieve the childcare target. The research evidence shows that involving parents in their children s education brings benefits to schools, parents and children 10. For children these can be improved standards of literacy and numeracy, positive behavioural and attitudinal changes, greater confidence and self-esteem, and awareness that learning is a normal activity throughout life. In a study of parents and children who took part together in family literacy programmes, the children were found two years later to have maintained the gains they had made 11. For parents, benefits include better literacy skills, progression to further education or more challenging jobs, and increased confidence in contacts with the education system, leading to becoming more active partners with schools. Parental involvement in the home is a more powerful force than family background and level of parental education 12. However, some parents do not feel able to get involved, perhaps because of their own limited literacy skills, negative experiences of school, or simply not realising the importance of their role; they may also have busy or chaotic lives. Schools can build parents confidence, and their relationship both with their child and with the school, by inviting them to join in family learning activities. These may not initially include literacy, but offer something else that families can achieve at like sports or arts and crafts. In providing these activities, schools will be aware of such issues as the timing of sessions, and childcare. As parents and children see that they can enjoy learning, their motivation to improve their skills increases. Also see the Cultural sector and sport pages Ë Supporting parents: see the Every Child Matters, Early Years and Secondary sector pages GOVERNMENT TARGETS Ensure that by 2006, 85 per cent of 11-year-olds achieve at level 4 (the expected level for their age) or above in English and maths Narrow the gap in educational achievement between children in public care and that of their peers The policy background The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners (2004) makes the following proposals for primary school children and their parents: A closer relationship between parents and schools, with better information through a new school profile and more family learning More family learning in children s centres and extended schools, including integrated help with basic skills More coherent services for parents, including advice and support, particularly for vulnerable families 9 G. Brooks (2002) What works for children with literacy difficulties? The effectiveness of intervention schemes, London: Department for Education and Skills. Also see I. Enters and G. Brooks (2005) Boosting Reading in Primary Schools, London: The Basic Skills Agency. 10 C. Desforges with A. Abouchaar (2003) The impact of parental involvement, parental support and family education on pupil achievement and adjustment: a literature review, London: Department for Education and Skills. 11 G. Brooks, T. Gorman, J. Harman, D. Hutchison, K. Kinder, H. Moor and A. Wilkin (1997) The NFER follow-up study of the Basic Skills Agency s family literacy demonstration programmes, London: the Basic Skills Agency. 12 Desforges and Abouchaar (2003).
18 17 Videos and guides for parents, through the Primary National Strategy, and tips on how to help children with reading and maths Additional resources and support to all primary schools with high levels of disadvantage, through Excellence in Cities Training for all key members of the children and families workforce in how to work with parents as well as children Extended schools are increasing the number and range of out-of-school activities and, particularly in rural areas, they support the Government s vision of the school as the hub of the local community. Schools will be the focal point for a range of family and community services such as childcare (by 2010, all schools should offer year-long 8am-6pm childcare), health and social services, adult education, family learning, and study support. Local authorities are receiving 680 million over the two years to 2008 to develop extended services. Extended schools provide an opportunity for schools to develop their home and community links. Some schools in deprived communities need extra support in delivering the curriculum, and in urban areas this is recognised by the Excellence in Cities programme. This provides additional funds for specific approaches to improve exam results and tackle pupil disaffection. It includes all primary schools with more than 35 per cent of pupils on free school meals. Improving the speaking, listening and communication skills of these children is a particular focus, working both in the classroom and by developing strategies to enable parents to be co-educators in the home. Ofsted has developed a new Framework for Inspecting Schools, under which schools complete a self-evaluation form (known as the SEF). As part of this, schools must describe Every Child Matters: p.9 Á their links with parents and any community provision, as well as any significant partnerships with other providers or agencies. Involving health professionals: p.13 Á Skills for Life: p.25 Ë Creative Partnerships: p.28 Ë An example of work with reading buddies : p.22 Ë New Relationship with Schools: p.21ë Skills for Life is the strategy for improving adults basic skills, and Skills for Families enables schools to play a part. Learning and Skills Council funding is available for Family Literacy, Language and Numeracy courses, which can be run in partnership with providers of adult education. National Healthy Schools is a Government programme to reduce health inequalities, promote social inclusion and raise educational standards. Involving parents and the community The following are some examples of schools working in partnership to increase the confidence of parents around literacy, and encourage literacy activity in the home. Reading Connects is a DfES-funded National Reading Campaign initiative that supports schools in using reading for pleasure to enhance achievement. It offers a web-based support network to help get the whole school reading by connecting families, children and all members of the school community to a culture where reading is accessible and acceptable to everyone. Reading Champions is another National Reading Campaign initiative, which recognises, rewards and motivates male readers. It offers schools a flexible framework designed to engage boys in reading. An Education Action Zone (EAZ) that ran in south-east Sheffield from was initiated by a group of schools, community groups and local councillors. The focus was on language and literacy, and family and community-based learning. This included a School Community Coordinator Programme, providing for workers to re-engage parents and adults
19 Primary Schools 18 from the local community in learning. Parents and teaching assistants could undertake Open College Network-accredited Supporting Children in Literacy training and also improve their own skills. The EAZ ensured that practitioners who worked with children on arts and computer projects also trained school staff to keep the activities going. It was important that each school s involvement in the zone was on the basis of its own choice, with partnership agreements setting out the school s responsibilities. These measures maintained fairness and transparency, and the sustainability of the work after the life of the zone. An Excellence in Cities Action Zone is continuing some of the activities, with reduced funding. Staff who can see the broader opportunities provided by initiatives are valuable: for example, two city-wide initiatives in Stoke on Trent are working with Reading Is Fundamental, UK (RIF) to bring parents into schools for fun events where they share books with their children. These are run together with the library service and involve visits Reading Champions in prisons: p.33 Ë from storytellers and members of Stoke City Football Club. The focus is on Other work by the Sheffield EAZ: p.21 Ë books, but organisers suggested also inviting health professionals along to talk with parents about diet, smoking cessation and speech and language issues. Other initiatives in Stoke: p.14 Á Case Study: Family learning across communities in Rochdale The Partnership Education Service (PES) has been supporting children s learning in Rochdale for over 20 years, by helping parents to get involved. It targets schools with the greatest number of ethnic minority pupils, and those in areas of multiple deprivation. Multi-lingual teams based in the schools provide the link with the local community. Liaison workers make home visits, support asylum-seeker families and encourage parents to involve themselves in the school and engage in learning. The PES runs family learning programmes, which involve a partnership with libraries, and Sure Start funding enables Early Start courses for pre-school children and their parents in nurseries and community venues. The PES is part of Children s Services and the Learners and Young People s Service in Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council. The Learners and Young People s Service includes other services delivering adult and community learning, and the PES is part of this consortium that addresses the learning needs of adults. It is mainstream-funded, with extra external funding coming from the Learning and Skills Council and the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund. The home-school liaison worker who now manages the PES has been at Spotland Primary School for 12 years and speaks several community languages. She works closely with the headteacher, who sees her role as key. All parents are welcome to join in family learning activities: having a mixed group of parents from white, Asian and asylum-seeker backgrounds develops relationships across communities, meaning that the school is less segregated. The creative focus to activity helps children and parents achieve at new art forms, which boosts their self-esteem. Between 90 and 100 parents come to the classes every week. Some come just to sew and for social interaction, while others want to study for qualifications. Once their confidence has increased, many go on to study in more structured family literacy, language and numeracy classes or sign up for college courses. The headteacher sees the benefits: younger siblings now start at school with better English, as a result of the parental support. She also gets 87 per cent attendance at parents evenings and finds that parents are now requesting events, such as a Halal barbecue. An educational trip to Mallorca in 2004 had positive outcomes, including two women of Pakistani heritage gaining sufficient confidence to become school governors. Creative family learning in Rochdale: p.30 Ë Sure Start: p.12 Á Children s services: p.10 Á Learning and Skills Council: p. 25 Ë Cohesive communities: p.24 Ë Supporting adults: also see the Post-16 Sector pages Ë