Ten thousand Nottingham families who faced social and economic disadvantage have benefited from a ‘family learning’ programme in Nottingham over the last 12 years.

The Nottingham City Council-led programme is funded by the Skills Funding Agency and is designed to give parents and carers the skills and confidence they need to help them better support their children. The programme is designed to:

  • improve the literacy, language and numeracy skills of mothers, fathers, carers and children
  • help mums, dads and carers to be more proactive and engaged in the support of their children’s learning and development
  • increase the employability prospects of those of working age within these families

Family Learning is delivered in schools, children’s centres and community venues across Nottingham. It’s a fantastic opportunity for parents to find out what their child is being taught in school and to develop their own skills to support them. It’s also a great way to make new friends, share experiences and improve people’s own learning.

The council works in partnership with colleges and voluntary sector throughout the city to deliver the necessary learning and the Nottingham-based careers experts Futures Advice, Skills and Employment to provide participants with the necessary support and guidance to help them find employment. The focus of this support is to improve communication, leadership and teamwork skills and taking responsibility for actions and problem solving.

Nottingham City Council Portfolio Holder for Jobs, Growth and Transport, Councillor Nick McDonald said: “Adults who have had a poor experience of learning themselves often find that learning with their children helps to build their own confidence and skills. We seek to raise the aspirations of our families by promoting and helping to create a learning community.

“‘Family Learning’ describes a wide range of activities and programmes that involve children and carers gaining new skills together. Activities range from informal learning at fun days to more formal courses focusing on the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategies in schools. Programmes like this are vital to the achievement and wellbeing of Nottingham City’s families.”

The family learning programme forms a key outcome of Nottingham City Council’s Children and Young People’s Plan and One Nottingham’s Strategic Family & Community Learning plan. These aim to widen the participation in education and learning of families, young people and adults identified as vulnerable, under-represented or under-achieving. The combined objectives include:

  • ensuring all children and young people thrive and achieve
  • tackling poverty and deprivation by getting more local people into good jobs
  • improving health & wellbeing

Debbie Fletcher, 29 from Broxtowe, had been unemployed for 10 years during which time she raised her three children (now aged 4 to 9). As a result of being out of work for such a long period she needed support putting together a CV and researching and applying for jobs.

Debbie said: “While my hands were full bringing up my three children, I was getting frustrated at home and began to feel depressed. I needed to do something else. So my husband agreed to reduce the hours he worked to free up a bit more time for me to go to work. My CV was shocking and I needed help and support with writing one that would enhance my chances of getting an interview.”

Thanks to the quality of her CV Debbie secured a job at Juke Box Cafe in Radford where she waitresses and prepares food. Her boss described her CV as “impressive”.

Debbie also benefitted from the Family Learning SEAL (social and emotional aspects of learning) initiative to help improve her relationship with her eldest daughter, with whom she was having some difficulty due to a break-up of the relationship with the daughter’s father. The support she received helped them work through the issues together and she and her daughter now enjoy a fantastic relationship.

Marie Ainsworth, careers adviser with Futures, says: “Many parents and carers we work with think they don’t have the necessary skills to support their children let alone find work. Part of our job is to get them to realise that the skills they put in place every day to manage their households such as time management – getting the children up, breakfasted and to school on time, planning and budgeting – deciding what to eat and how to pay for it, negotiating skills – dealing with children’s disagreements, and leadership skills – running a family, are all valuable to an employer. It’s a matter of building on these and helping participants to grow in confidence.”