FACES Case Studies: Stories from family learning tutors and participants

From Family Learning to Employment – A Case Study

Written by Jenny Wilkinson and Georgina Bell

Emma joined a Family Learning course that was delivered at Southey Green Primary School back in 2018 working with her younger brother.  At that time, Emma had recently dropped out of college due to issues with anxiety and other personal reasons.  Emma’s confidence had taken a big knock, but with the support of her family learning tutor, she committed to attending the family learning course every week and thoroughly enjoyed working with her brother and the other members of the group.

Although she was extremely quiet, Emma worked very hard, developing ideas and putting in extra hours at home.The course was structured around a project to plan, make and film a digital animation with a child. The project gave Emma a feeling of ownership and self direction. As with all the learners on the course, she encountered some difficulties – but by working together to solve this she developed skills of resilience. The personal invitation from the school contact was key in helping Emma make that first step back into learning after a difficult time in college, as was the opportunity to support the learning of her brother  (who has Autism) and work on something with him.  Emma’s mum had previously attended family learning courses and had encouraged Emma to join with her brother, knowing the benefits they would both gain.  Emma felt the course had a positive impact on his learning, and their life at home.

Emma went on to attend a second family learning course in the Spring of 2020 – although this was cut short, at the time she was feeling much more positive about her future and ready to take her next steps.   She was engaged with an apprenticeship course with an employer in a call centre, investigating other online learning options including some recommended by her family learning tutor, and continuing to make gains in developing her confidence, for instance in speaking in a group or to people she did not know.  In Emma’s own words, ‘Doing family learning has helped me to help my brother and we have really bonded.  It has helped to build my confidence too.  My tutor (Jenny) has been really positive and good at making me believe I can do things, so I have started to believe it too.’

In 2021, Emma contacted her family learning tutor again to request a reference.  Emma had just received a job offer for her dream job, working in a care home.  Her tutor was able to provide information to the employer detailing Emma’s journey and the many positive qualities and ‘softer’ employability skills she had shown and developed in her time with us. That she is able to seek employment in the difficult circumstances of a lockdown demonstrates just how far Emma has come.

Participant feedback – Kelly

Hungry Caterpillar & Coding courses

Q: What made you want to come and take part in this course?

A: I wanted to help support my son with his learning and development.

Q: What has changed about you or what you now feel you can do?

A: I feel better equipped to support my son and I have a better knowledge of the teaching methods the school/nursery use, so we can be consistent with his learning.

Q: What difference has this course made to you, your family or your community?

A: I have done 2 courses, the coding course opened my eyes to how capable my 3 year old is on the ipad, prior to the course he just used his tablet for watching cbeebies but we now use the tablet to help aid his learning and the he uses coding app used in the course independently on a daily basis.

I also did the Hungry Caterpillar course – my son has a very short attention span and this course helped introduce ways of making books more engaging and interactive. I also found the phonics section of the course really useful, my son has a speech delay so gaining a better understanding of the different labels given to the use and sounds of letters within words, has really helped me put more structure to his home learning.

Q: Do you intend to continue learning, are you moving into employment, or has the learning supported voluntary work?

A: If any more courses become available that are appropriate for I will happily continue learning.

Q: What would you say to other learners to encourage them to enrol on a course like this?

A: You can never have too much help or knowledge when it comes to supporting your little ones, so why not. The tutors are very welcoming and supportive.

Amy Atkinson – Digital Skills Tutor

I met P through a referral from Zest, she is a 79 year old lady who wanted to develop her online digital skills so she was able to contact her family via video calling.   

We had several phone ‘tutorials’ where I was able to support P to switch on her computer and gain access to her emails.  After several sessions she was able to respond to my email.  We then had a session to focus on video calling and P was able to connect with me via Zoom. 

It was lovely to hear how using Zoom would impact her life as she would finally be able to see her children and her grandchildren.  She allowed me to record a small section of our meeting and she shared how it was so important for her to connect with her family and be able to communicate with others. 

P has now asked if I can support her with social media when we can resume face to face teaching.