Come and explore new ways of engaging with families that enable schools, family learning providers and those working in communities to:

  • close attainment gaps
  • reach bilingual families
  • move people to employment
  • stimulate an interest in STEM subjects
  • support families before they reach a financial crisis point
  • support early years transition

Special offer!

We are offering this conference at a special price of £90.00 per person (no VAT) and including lunch.

Click here for a conference flyer.


09.45    Arrivals and Refreshments

10.00    Welcome: Daniel Locke-Wheaton, Principal, AUEA and Hafsha Shaikh, Director, Smartlyte

10.10    Introduction: Juliette Collier, National Director, Campaign for Learning and Joyce Black. Assistant Director of Research and Development, Learning and Work Institute

10.20    Engaging Parents in Children’s Learning to Narrow Achievement Gaps: Dr Janet Goodall, University of Bath

10.50    Family Learning and Current Policy Priorities: Charlotte Piper, Skills Strategy and Adult Education, Department for Education

11.15    Refreshments

11.30    Morning Workshops:

1. Learning through play is EasyPeasy! Using a digital approach to support and extend the home learning environment

Delivered by Nicola Doherty, Research Manager, Easy Peasy

EasyPeasy is a dynamic, evidence-based, digital resource that offers parents a bank of games to play with their children at home. The games contain crucial information on child development and are demonstrated through short videos with real families. This workshop will enable you to find out about the EasyPeasy tools and explore how they can extend family learning programmes into the home learning environment.

'We know that the attainment gap between the richest and the poorest pupils begins before they’ve even started school. Tackling this disparity early on is critical to breaking the cycle of disadvantage and improving social mobility. But it can be difficult to get parents involved in their child’s learning. The University of Oxford’s evaluation results show the potential for EasyPeasy to be an effective way of improving parental engagement.' PETER LAMPL, Funder; Chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation and of the Sutton Trust

2. Bright Sparks! Exploring practical family science activities and resources

Delivered by Hafsha Shaikh, Smartlyte

‘Bright Sparks’ was a highly successful family learning project, which aimed to stimulate and inspire BME families in Birmingham to actively engage with science. It delivered a series of exciting family science events, where families learned how to ‘build’ a brain, understand how the brain works and controls movement, understand ecosystems, drive a virtual train and clean giant teeth! This workshop will share practical ideas and resources from the project that will enable you to develop your own Bright Sparks programme.

‘It made me think about what I want to be. I think it’s between a dentist and an engineer’ 10 year old project participant

‘It was brilliant using a real science lab! I’ve never seen one before, except on TV’ Child after AUEA visit

‘He’s been so interested in trying out all the experiments. He really enjoyed it’ Parent who participated in the project

3. Family Skills. Differentiating the learning experience for bilingual families

Delivered by Karen Dudley, Director, Learning Unlimited

This workshop will explore some of the key barriers that can prevent bilingual families from engaging with family learning and share strategies, activities and resources that promote a differentiated learning environment to respond to diverse needs and different language and literacy levels. The workshop draws on the significant expertise of

Learning Unlimited in working with bilingual families, as well as the collective experience of Family Skills, a national family literacy programme, which worked with hundreds of migrant families from diverse backgrounds and with wide-ranging language and literacy needs.

12.20    Lunch and Networking

13.10    How do we measure the impact of Family Learning? Roundtable discussion: Effective data collection tools and outcomes frameworks.

13.45    National Family Learning Network 2018: New training and online resource bank

14.00     What do you want from life? Over to you! The top 5 things that would help you improve the quality and impact of your work?

14.15    Refreshments

14.30    Family Learning in Prisons: Issues and Opportunities: Susan Easton, Head of Digital and Family Learning, Learning and Work Institute

14.45    Afternoon Workshops:

4. Family Fortunes: Using engaging family learning approaches to help families manage money

Delivered by Rochdale Borough Council, Children's Services

Families are under increasing financial pressure, but often don’t seek help until they reach crisis point. Family Fortunes is a preventative approach that helps parents and children to develop positive money habits that will last them a lifetime, whilst having fun learning together. The programme is part of the Money Advice Service What Works Fund and is currently being evaluated by UCK.

The workshop provides an opportunity to explore the Family Fortunes resources and share the experiences of tutors in Rochdale, who have delivered the programme in primary schools and children’s centres across the Borough.

‘It’s helped me and my son [he is 8 years-old]; every time I go shopping with my son he tells me, “Don’t get that, get this, it’s more cheaper”.’

‘The most useful bit of the course was learning more about how to budget. I now make my shopping lists that are in budget. I am now more aware of what my incoming and outgoings are and this has made a lot of difference’

5. Mouse Club! Supporting school readiness and transition in early years

Delivered by Emma Beresford, Director, Parental Engagement Network

This workshop shares ideas and resources from Mouse Club, which provides fun activities and strategies to engage families in supporting their children’s learning and help get children school ready. Using a cuddly mouse to encourage independence skills and routines, imaginative playclub bags to develop phonics skills and language and FUN maths activities to help parents understand how to help their child. The resources have been developed and evaluated as part of a two-year research project and were found to have an impact on the home learning environment. 

“The Sutton Trust working closely with the University of Oxford (Department of Education) have found the PEN approach to engaging parents in their children’s learning to have a positive impact on targeted families, in addition, it is low cost and sustainable.” Oxford University Evaluation Report, Nov 2017

6. Family Learning and Employability. Using family learning approaches to enable parents to move to employment

Delivered by Salim Shaikh, Smartlyte

This workshop will share experiences and resources from the Employable Parents programme developed by Smartlyte. Using a family learning approach, parents who had never had employment, or were long-term unemployed were engaged through children’s centres and supported to develop employability skills and the confidence to become work ready. Parents also moved into volunteering roles, including becoming ‘Sparklers’- parent mentors in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham.

‘I’ve learned so much about the world of work; the skills and qualities that employers need and interview tips”

‘I’d never done a CV before. I know how to do a CV now and what to put in it’

Parents who participated in the Employable Parents programme

15.45    Close

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