National Recognition: Winners of the Family Learning Awards Announced

ORGANISATIONS demonstrating imaginative, engaging, and impactful approaches to working with families have recently been recognised as part of a national celebration of learning. 

Winners of this year’s Family Learning Awards include a programme to encourage more male family members into learning with their families, a wide suite of well-being initiatives to support resilience and wellness, a reading initiative, and a library festival to support digital and STEM learning.

The Family Learning Awards, run by the social inclusion and lifelong learning initiative Campaign for Learning, is a yearly celebration acknowledging inclusive and impactful work across the UK that makes a real difference to families.

Sarah Kean-Price, Project Manager at Campaign for Learning, said:

“This year has brought some wonderful, inspiring and encouraging projects with a real breadth and depth of focus to different aspects of family learning.

“Each winning organisation had projects that impressed in multiple ways and there’s some real key takeaways for the family learning community and discipline. Our other shortlisted organisations must also be recognised for similar levels of creativity and thoughtfulness – the scoring was very tight this year.”

Full list of award winners:

Award for Family Learning in the Early Years, in partnership with CACHE Alumni 

Winner: Lancashire County Council’s Reader Development Team and their ‘Little Steps’ initiative

The Little Steps programme was newly designed against the core early years learning principles of chat, play, read and learn for 2–5-year-olds. The main aim was to get families reading and doing activities together earlier in the child’s life for maximum benefit to their communication, mental health and wellbeing.

Activities were created to meet the Early Years Foundation Stage’s (EYFS) seven areas of learning for young children, and included areas like making friends, finding your voice and having new experiences.  These either become interventions or were woven into existing activities and events. Judges loved the legacy approach to encouraging long-term engagement and service provision as well as the link to the EYFS framework.

Julie Bell, Head of Cultural Services at Lancashire County Council, said:

“It is rewarding to be recognised by these awards that are celebrating impactful work making a real difference to families, as that is at the heart of our Little Steps scheme.

“Our aim is to encourage parents to read with their child, join our libraries and do activities together earlier in the child’s life for maximum benefit to their communication skills, improved mental health and wellbeing. Our Little Steps recommended reading is chosen by our own Lancashire library staff, speech and language experts, and health practitioners to help children develop new skills. We love to encourage families to flourish through reading and play.”

Award for Innovation in Family Learning 

Winner: Abercromby Primary School and their ‘Paternal Play’ programme

The Paternal Play programme grew out of the former ‘Dads and Lads’ work, designed to get more male family members involved with their children’s learning after a notable drop post-Covid. Activities ranged from boxing and archery to cooking and coding and it also included a free end-of-term trip.

As a result of the programme, more male family members are now attending school events and family sessions and engaging with staff, and another has worked with the local authority to create a video to encourage school attendance. Children are enjoying showing their male family members their work, and adults are coming forward to co-create sessions for the next version of the programme and making friends with each other outside of the school environment.

Emma Craig, Principal Teacher, and Lindsay Patterson, Family Support Worker at Abercromby Primary School, said:

“We are absolutely over the moon to receive this award for our Paternal Play project and are so proud of the impact it has had and continues to have in our school community. We love running this project and interacting with our learners and their parents in a fun and inclusive environment, learning new skills and strengthening relationships.”

Award for Family Learning to Support Health and Well-being 

Winner: Worcestershire County Council (WCC) Learning Service’s family learning suite

The family learning suite from WCC was developed to support parental requirements needed for family learning and to create entry points for those new to Worcester, those who wanted to learn more essential skills, or for those needing support to re-engage with learning.

Courses were run to promote healthy eating, reading together, playing outdoors, and the importance of resilience and ‘good self’ concept, alongside activities like art therapy, physical activity, connection with others, and identifying support.

More than three-quarters of parents reported improvements to their social life, communication skills, community participation, fitness and wellness, and breadth of hobbies and interests. One parent has moved on to an apprenticeship, and another is now a qualified swimming teacher.

Award for Family Learning to Support STEM 

Winner: Norfolk Libraries and their Digifest 2023

Norfolk Libraries’ Digifest 2023 ran an impressive set of 122 free events for families with 3–14-year-old children. Knowing that digital access and lack of motivation and trust are key issues in digital and STEM learning, Norfolk sought to use their wide network of libraries and community links to promote and create playful, interactive, and community-inclusive educational activities and events.

Sessions were designed to align with the National Curricula for Computing and Design and Technology to ensure relevancy as well as to support learning outside of the festival. They also included existing library sessions and provisions to capture audiences who were already engaged but who might not choose a digital event without the familiarity of an already-loved programme. Over 87% of attendees reported back that they felt more inspired about and confident with technology.

To discover more about the winners and shortlisted organisations, please visit: www.familylearningfestival.com/family-learning-awards.