A family learning project at Robin Hood Primary School in Bestwood has been named by OFSTED as an example of good practice in family learning.

Developed in partnership between Nottingham City Council’s Family Learning Service and the school, the innovative project has worked to build strong relationships with parents and carers, helping them to feel a part of the school even before their child starts in the nursery, as well as having a positive, long-term effect on pupils’ attainment.

The project has seen Robin Hood Primary School establish a drop-in community hub within the school premises to support local families, engaging with parents and carers of both existing and prospective pre-school children. This has become a one-stop shop where families are able to access a range of support and services.

The school has worked with the City Council and New College Nottingham to offer parents and carers accredited learning in functional skills and parenting courses. Courses on offer have helped with a range of skills, from literacy and mathematics for adults to building self-confidence, cooking and healthy eating. Reading groups, in partnership with the local library, are also provided for families, as well as tips to help parents and carers support their children’s learning.

Benefits of the family learning course include:

  • all of Year 6 pupils, whose parents or carers attended family learning, achieved Level 4 in reading, writing and mathematics
  • 78% of Year 6 pupils exceeded two levels of progress in mathematics
  • whole-school attendance increased from 93% to 95%
  • nursery attendance averages at 82%; 93% of family learning students’ children attend nursery
  • persistent absentees’ rate has dropped from 11% in 2010/11 to 4% in 2012/13
  • attendance at parents’ evenings has increased by 10%
  • parents and carers feel more confident in contacting the school, talking to staff and joining in, breaking down barriers for school ‘phobic’ parents
  • many parents and carers go on to further training and some into employment
  • 96% of parents and carers report an increase in confidence
  • more parents and carers become volunteers.

One of the parent’s, who has been helped by the service, said: “I felt it was really time for me to start doing something with my life. I felt quite trapped at home and sometimes felt quite low. It was the fact that they were teaching you how to support your kids that caught my eye. I have always wanted my children to do well. I left school with no qualifications and didn’t want my children doing the same. I felt a bit nervous about going and being with other parents as I had never been involved in anything like this before and the fact that I didn’t have a lot of confidence. However, I plucked up the courage and attended, little did I know that this class was going to change my life forever.”

Robin Hood Primary School Headteacher, Andrew Sharp, said: “I am thrilled that the hard work of the school, its staff and parents has been recognised in the OFSTED Good Practice Case Study. We work tirelessly to support parents and the work of the Community Base has had a real impact on many aspects of their life. Crucially it has also impacted on their children’s progress.”

As well as continuing the project at Robin Hood Primary School, Nottingham City Council are now planning to cascade the good practice developed here to other schools.

Councillor Nick McDonald, Portfolio Holder for Jobs and Growth at Nottingham City Council, said: “We know that both pupil attainment levels and long-term unemployment remain key issues to address in our local communities. Focusing on early intervention and support for families such as this is vital to make sure both children and their parents and carers are able to increase their levels of attainment and ultimately their readiness for work.”

Executive Assistant for Schools Councillor Sam Webster said: “The work the Family Learning Project is doing at Robin Hood Primary School is not only important for the pupils and their families, but also the community as a whole. The fact they have been recognised by OFSTED as a Good Practice Case Study is truly testament to all their hard work.

He added: “If other schools across Nottingham can follow in their foot steps, we can not only help and support parents, but we can help to improve the lives of thousands of children who attend our schools.”