Tayside and Fife Professional Learning Alliance – Family Learning in Focus 2017

Report on Family Learning in Focus 18.12.17

Tayside and Fife had our Family Learning event in September 2017 which proved to be very successful. So much so, we are planning another one this coming September, details to follow. We had full attendance and the atmosphere was buzzing. Not only did we have fantastic workshops, we also had various speakers along and a great motivational video form the Real David Cameron which is a must watch for those of us keen to work in partnership and want to make a real difference in the communities we live and work in. I am always inspired attending events such as these and think that even more so, we need to share practice and really take on board of the impact we have with those we are working with. Reflection time is something we must embed into practice and although we are all pulled in various directions and constraints such as funding , we must have time to reflect and ‘sharpen the saw’ to continue to carry on making a difference to those who we connect with.

I have met so many amazing and inspirational individuals who are motivated to make change in an ever changing society. I feel empowered to continue to share the good practice that’s happening all over Scotland and very proud to work within a family learning remit across the Tayside, Fife and further afield with colleagues from a similar background. We need to keep the conversation happening and be confident to share good practice and things that are not going so well in order to grow, develop and achieve. Please go and have a read of the full report of the Family Learning in Focus event and make sure you don’t forget to watch the Real David Cameron video.

Save the date- Family learning in Focus Thursday 20th September 2018 Glenrothes

Maureen McGinlay – Communities Officer-Adult and Family learning, mcginlaym@angus.gov.uk


Cyber Resilient Family Learning

This week Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, launched the Cyber Resilience Learning Skills Action Plan 2018-20.

Guests at the launch of the Cyber Resilient Plan for Scotland 2018-20

Great! What has this to do with family learning you might be asking?

Quite a lot really.

This isn’t just a plan to fill vacancies in cyber resilience circles though that’s part of it and there are a growing number of jobs in that field.

It is an plan for everyone who goes online.

A call to action for every learning provider in Scotland to embed cyber resilience in non formal and formal curricula.  This includes family learning opportunities.

Working together with partners and communities we can demystify cyber resilience, which let’s face it does sound a bit star trek, to minimise the very real risks from cyber threats.  And that can only be a good thing. #wecandoit

Get stuck into the Cyber Resilience Learning Skills Action Plan and check out the Scottish Government cyber resilience blog posts  which have key messages to share across your networks #CyberAwareScotland

Emma Whitelock, Lead Scotland, ewhitelock@lead.org.uk

#familylearnscot #AdultLearnScot

Blog posts do not necessarily represent the views of the Strategic Forum for Adult Learning


Science for a Successful Scotland

February has seen the launch of an innovative science resource for teaching and learning called Science for a Successful Scotland.

The resource, which has been funded by the Glasgow Clyde Education Foundation, was launched at Knightswood Secondary School, Glasgow, by Shirley-Anne Somerville, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science.

Science for a Successful Scotland (or “3S”) has been developed by the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) with Dr. Heather Reid, OBE, Daniel Sellers, education consultant, and Glasgow Clyde College. The resource will be used with groups of adult learners in the community including those served by Glasgow Clyde College, which currently caters for over 20,000 students as well as working with partners such as Glasgow Science Centre.

Learners, particularly parents, will get the chance to increase their knowledge of science as well as develop important skills such as communication and numeracy. Glasgow Clyde College is supporting the roll-out and accessibility of the resource with the development of an interactive e-learning version for students and the wider community to access.

Intended to help adult learners to progress to further science and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning at Glasgow Clyde College and other colleges, Science for a Successful Scotland will help to open up a whole new range of job opportunities in the future. The project team will also work with adults to support their children in making subject and career choices in science subjects.

This resource makes a contribution to the recently launched STEM Education and Training Strategy for Scotland which aims to support and encourage all to develop their own STEM skills throughout life (Scottish Government, October 2017).

Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, Shirley-Anne Somerville said, “Developing Scotland’s STEM talent is key to achieving our ambitions of being a modern, dynamic and open economy. This new resource supports that goal and the broader aims of our STEM strategy by helping adults to increase their knowledge of science and highlighting the varied range of interesting and rewarding career opportunities on offer”.

Dr Heather Reid said, “As our society and economy become increasingly underpinned by STEM subjects, we hope this ‘Science for a Successful Scotland’ resource can help to raise awareness about the relevance and importance of science, and the many job opportunities studying science can bring. We are especially keen to see the resource play an active role within family learning, helping adult learners to advise and support young people with science subject choices”.

Director of the Glasgow Clyde Education Foundation, Pauline Radcliffe said, “This is a great example of partnership working between further education and third sector organisations and how they can successfully work together to deliver a better learning experience for families, adult learners and students living within their communities”.

Jon Vincent, Principal at Glasgow Clyde College said, “Science for a Successful Scotland is an excellent community learning resource that will provide vital support and information to its students. “The development of the online learning platform will help further engage adult learners, parents and students who want to increase their knowledge and understanding of science related subjects. It provides an opportunity to trial subjects in a digital environment and potentially progress to further education”.

Ray McCowan, Director of WEA Scotland, said, “3S is an innovative learning and teaching resource that could, and should, make a transformational difference to the science education of young people in Scotland. At a time when Scotland aspires to be a leader in STEM subjects and to get more young people to choose career paths in this high growth area, it is essential that the science education experience on offer is innovative, exciting and different. 3S delivers this and also the means by which both children and parents can learn together, that brings family learning to life”.

Taken from WEA press release

Review of ‘Learning at Home’

Education Scotland are in the process of consulting on a Review of ‘Learning at Home’. This document is for practitioners and contains the first draft Scottish definition of Learning at Home.

You are invited to provide comments and suggestions on the ‘Learning at Home’ document and the definition.

Deadline for responses is Friday, 9th February 2018. Feedback should be sent to: Beverley.ferguson@educationscotland.gsi.gov.uk.

The final document will be published on Education Scotland’s National Improvement Hub along with an Executive Summary of the key messages.

Thank you

Dr Beverley Ferguson, Education Officer, Education Scotland

Empowering Schools consultation closes 30th January 2018

2018 is another important year for family learning in Scotland and there are only two more weeks to go before the Empowering Schools consultation closes on 30th January.

The policy context is very good, so please do have your say whether you think the proposed changes will lead to success in practice. Family learning is firmly ensconced within the current Programme for GovernmentHow Good is our School 4 (the optional Family Learning Quality Indicator, 2.5, is flying off the shelf!) and the Review of Family Learning provides an overview of effective practice which makes a real and positive difference.

At the recent Statement of Ambition for Adult Learning Strategic Forum meeting, a draft workforce development survey indicated that many practitioners don’t feel confident to respond to consultations which is another reason we are inviting you to respond via this blog.  If you respond to one question then you have a better chance of moving things forward than if you don’t respond at all.  Be bold, go for it!

The Community Standards Council have written a position paper to stimulate thinking and it might help shape your thinking.

Find our more and respond to the Empowering schools consultation.

Happy new year

Emma Whitelock

Chair, Family Learning Working Group, ewhitelock@lead.org.uk

#adultlearnscot #familylearnscot #becauseofcld


‘Family Learning in Focus’


Thursday 28th September 2017

Douglas Community Centre Dundee

9.30am – 3.30pm


Our Annual Family Learning shared practice event has arrived!

In the past 2 years we have been running family learning sessions to up skill and share practice within the 4 local authorities, Fife, Dundee, Angus and Perth and Kinross.

The first year was a one day long event and saw around 40-50 people attend. This offered presentations from Gary Roberts, University of Dundee, and Susan Doherty from Education Scotland. Feedback from this event was very positive and people really enjoyed the networking and the workshops as it was informal and informative.

We had projects share ideas and visit other projects to further develop their practice.

We are having a similar event happening in September 2017. Speakers are:

Audrey May – Dundee City Council

Gary Roberts – University of Dundee

Susan Doherty – Education Scotland

The Real David Cameron has created a video as he couldn’t attend in person so we all look forward to this.

Workshops are on in the morning and afternoon to share practice and build wider networks in the area. We will be filming the event and this will be available online for those who couldn’t make it along.

If you want any further information then please get in touch.

Family learning survey

The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP, launched the Delivery Plan for Scottish Education in June 2016 and the National Improvement Framework and Improvement Plan in December 2016. Family learning is identified in both documents as a key driver for change and there is a commitment to ‘develop family learning programmes that support children’s progress and achievement’.

To take forward the commitments in the Delivery Plan and National Improvement Framework and Improvement Plan, Education Scotland developed a survey to be completed by practitioners engaged in family learning outcomes.  This will help gather information on the family learning programmes being delivered across Scotland and identify any gaps.

The closing date for the survey is Friday 1 September 2017.  Please share.



Family Learning Programme Delivery in Scotland Survey 2017

The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP, launched the Delivery Plan for Scottish Education in June 2016 and the National Improvement Framework and Improvement Plan in December 2016. Family learning is identified in both documents as a key driver for change and there is a commitment to ‘develop family learning programmes that support children’s progress and achievement’. To take forward the commitments in the Delivery Plan and National Improvement Framework and Improvement Plan, Education Scotland developed a survey to be completed by practitioners engaged in family learning outcomes.  This will help gather information on the family learning programmes being delivered across Scotland and identify any gaps.

The closing date for the survey is Friday 1 September 2017.


Tweeting for the Terrified

Sitting with a dull dread before the twinkling screen of the office computer, the task is upon us!
We’ve looked at the minutes from the last Family Learning Working Group meeting and finding that we are both highlighted to write a post on Tweeting. Gulp!
The thing is….. we are no experts – both confess to having never skipped the light fandango and actually posted a dicky bird on Twitter let alone chirped!
Not to worry, help is at hand from our trusted colleagues. We’ve found information from a recent Social Media Conference aimed at Housing and Communities staff. This sounds about right. It’s a good start and here to share with you is the friendly handout on how to get started.

Here goes……

The Building Blocks of Twitter

building blocks of twitter

1. Tweet

A Tweet is a message posted on Twitter that can contain text, photos, links and videos.

2. Reply

Click ‘reply’ to respond to anyone’s Tweet. Replying to a Tweet is a way to show you’re listening and provide helpful answers.

3. Retweet

A Retweet is sharing a Tweet from someone else with your followers. Click the Retweet button to share the Tweet as is, or quote the Tweet to add a comment of your own.

4. Like

A like is a simple way to acknowledge a Tweet. It can also be useful to use as a bookmarking tool if you want to easily find a Tweet again. Tap the heart icon to like a Tweet and the author will see that you appreciate it.

5. Hashtag

A hashtag is any word, or phrase without spaces, beginning with the # symbol. People use hashtags within messages to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it. People can then click on a hashtag to go directly to the search results for that term. Hashtagged words that become very popular are often Trending Topics.

6. Mention

Bring a Tweet to another person’s attention by including their @username in your message. You could use it to ask someone a question, to thank them, or simply highlight a piece of content.

Source: https://business.twitter.com/en.html
Please let us know if you found this useful!

Sarah McEwan, sarah.mcewan@dundeecity.gov.uk and Barbara Middleton, Barbara.Middleton@midlothian.gov.uk

#familylearnscot #AdultLearnScot

Blog posts do not necessarily represent the views of the Strategic Forum for Adult Learning


Getting it right for every child means getting it right for every parent too

It might be easier to count the leaves on a tree than the things a new parent can find to fret about.

Feeding, sleeping, smiling, crying, walking, talking, too much, too little, too soon, too late. A nagging suspicion that something is not quite right can often feel like the only constant for new parents in a world suddenly turned upside down.

When Lyndsey Boyle’s first baby was born, however, she had a very real reason to worry after her daughter Lexi arrived nine weeks early, weighing just 2lbs 4oz.
Fearful for her newborn baby, Lyndsey, who has learning difficulties, endured more uncertainty after being told that, even if Lexi pulled through, she might not be allowed to return home.

There were concerns that Lyndsey could not safely care for her baby and that she might become one of the 40 per cent of parents with learning disabilities who no longer live with their children.

Thankfully, after four months in hospital, Lexi was allowed home in October to live with Lindsey and her mum and dad in care arrangements bolstered by Aberlour in South Ayrshire.

Our team, based in Girvan but operating across the region, work closely with parents with learning disabilities to increase their skills, self-confidence and ability to provide safe, caring homes for their children. We deliver practical advice for families, where one or both parents have learning disabilities, but as importantly, we offer emotional support and reassurance, an encouragement that they have the skills and support to care for their children.

Research in 2013 suggested children of parents with a learning disability were more likely to be taken into care in Scotland than in England while also highlighting significant differences between Scotland’s councils when deciding if their children should be taken into care, fostered or adopted.

Things may have improved since then but, sadly, there remains a suspicion that some parents with learning disabilities are still having their children taken into care without being given every possible opportunity to care for them at home. If it can be done, the benefits of keeping their family intact are boundless. It is good for the parents, good for taxpayers but, above all, good for children, securing them a far better start and a far brighter future.

Funded by the Big Lottery and South Ayrshire Council, our team improve the prospects of children of parents with learning disabilities, keeping them out of care and protecting their mental and physical health. Experts suggest more community-based services like ours would allow many more parents to care for their children at home, greatly improving their chances in life.

Planning, never mind funding, those services is difficult, of course, when we cannot even be sure how many Scottish parents have learning disabilities. The current best guess is around 5,000 but – since 63 per cent of the parents we support are found to have an undiagnosed learning disability – there are almost certainly many, many more.
A consistent definition of learning disability that is both simpler and more flexible might help. Currently, a parent being a few IQ points above or below 70 can mean the difference between their family securing concerted, consistent support and getting none at all.

An evaluation of our service by the Social Value Lab focused on just six of the families helped by Aberlour across South Ayrshire. It found that without the charity’s support: 12 children would not have attended school regularly; three children would have ended up in the criminal justice system; nine children would have been taken into care; and five children would not have received essential health care.

In addition, three parents would have suffered deteriorating health; two parents would not have attended college; three parents would not have found other vital support services; and one parent would probably have ended up in jail. In total, the support scheme saved taxpayers £1.4million in one year with a projected saving of £9.6million over ten years.

Of course, sometimes it cannot work. Sometimes, parents – with or without learning disabilities – cannot properly care for their children and careful, clear-eyed assessment of parenting capacity, responsive to the needs and wishes of parents and their children, is the seam that runs through our work.

No two families are the same and we work closely with families to establish what kind of support each needs and tailor our work to provide that. Early intervention is, as always, crucial. A quick fix, a sudden intervention when a family is already in or facing crisis, will often only postpone another crisis. Much of our work is about seeing and tackling potential problems long before they become critical, winning the trust of parents and ensuring the physical and emotional needs of their children are being met.

Parents need long-term support from before their baby is born, in the months after birth and, often, for many years to come. Often they will need particular support at milestones in their child’s lives, at times of transition, from baby to toddler, nursery to primary from primary to secondary. They need to know help is there and how to find it.

Getting it right for the children of parents with learning disabilities demands a concerted effort from everyone involved, from midwives and health visitors to social workers and psychologists. That life-changing effort should also be shaped by the experience, expertise and commitment of the Third Sector and driven by the kind of innovative, effective support delivered by charities like Aberlour.

Parents with learning disabilities only want to be the best they can be, to care for their children and give them the best chance for a better future. That is all they want and they deserve every chance. Getting it right for every child means getting it right for every parent too.

By SallyAnn Kelly, Chief Executive of the Aberlour Child Care Trust


#familylearnscot #AdultLearnScot

Blog posts do not necessarily represent the views of the Strategic Forum for Adult Learning