Report: To Improve Education, Teach Parents and Kids Side by Side

A new report by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) in the United Kingdom says family learning can help boost the skills of both parents and children, and that the government should provide more support to family learning.

The report recommends that schools to teach parents and children side-by-side to raise education standards for the whole family. The study revealed that millions of pupils across England and Wales are held back by their parents' poor basic skills, writes Graeme Paton of The Telegraph.

Because of low standards of literacy and numeracy in a large numbers of families, England is described as a "nation in crisis." Many youngsters are being held back by "poverty of ambition and poverty of opportunity", the reports said.

The advocacy follows a recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development stating that the literacy and numeracy rates of England's 16 to 24-year-olds were among the lowest in the developed world. Young people in England came 22nd for literacy and 21st for numeracy out of 24 countries, the report said.

England was the only country in which school leavers had lower levels of basic skills than adults nearing retirement. "Adults whose parents have low levels of education are eight times more likely to have poor proficiency in literacy than adults whose parents had higher levels of education," Baroness Howarth, the cross-bench peer, said, adding that "surely it is a moral outrage that a nation such as ours should be in this position."

According to the NIACE report, parents and children should be taught together so that family learning should be a key part of school life.

"Family learning can close the attainment gap and help end the ‘life-chance lottery' by creating a culture of aspiration in every family," the report said, adding that "family learning provides a low-pressure, safe and enjoyable step back into formal adult learning – one that appeals to parents' strong desire to support their children."

NIACE Chief Executive David Hughes said family learning programs should be offered in every school and that these programs could be funded through the pupil premium – cash given to schools to help disadvantaged children.

"Imagine growing up in a home where there are no books, no stories and where your parents don't have the confidence to help you with your homework," Hughes said. "Unfortunately that is a reality for too many children. But this situation can be overcome. Across the country there are examples of family learning programs which have transformed the prospects for adults and children."

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