01904 554277 york.learning@york.gov.uk
One intervention, multiple impacts.

“Evidence shows that the quality of the home learning environment is a key predictor of a child’s future – what parents do is just as important as who they are.”

Improving the home learning environment, National Literacy Trust, Nov 2018

The Family Learning team has worked in York for nearly 25 years.  We have proved we’re here for the long term! Some of our work is universal but it is mainly targeted at those who are wanting to develop confidence and skills to support a child’s learning and in some cases to get qualifications, as well as advice and guidance, as an adult learner.  This in itself is a huge boost to confidence and raises aspirations both for the adult and the child. The overall aim is to empower parents, grandparents and carers to develop their own skills and to support their children’s learning.

We have a range of programmes for adult learners, from Early Start (for those with 1 and 2 year olds) to Fun with Phonics, Keep Up with Children in Maths right up to GCSEs, as well as topical courses on Internet Safety and Managing Stress.  We welcome referrals from local area teams, schools and pre-school settings, and other local authority and community teams.  You are probably working with the people who would benefit most from our courses – and, with your help, these are the people we want to reach.

All of our courses are free.  They are funded from central Government through the Skills Funding Agency. This is primarily to support community development, meeting local need, and to bring people back into learning, helping them move forwards in their own lives through achieving qualifications including English and maths*.   Within Family Learning, we teach English and maths in the context of how children are taught in primary school, so resolving a lot of homework headaches and supporting two generations at once!

Local and national impact data, as well as learner feedback, consistently shows that Family Learning courses don’t just support skills and learning.  Our learners develop self-esteem and friendship groups, as well as transferable skills such as time management and better communication skills. These are identified and encouraged through ongoing information, advice and guidance throughout the learner’s journey with us. This in turn raises aspirations for the adult learner, and consequently their aspirations for their children.

Our summer and autumn provision has been scaled down to focus on some of our most popular courses and those we feel will help people most at this current time.  For the moment, they will all be delivered online, with most courses running for 45 minutes to an hour at different times of the day/week to allow people to have options to join us.  We realise that this may be a challenge for some families due to lack of adequate equipment or digital skills but we hope that we can work with you to identify and support these families too.  When restrictions and venue availability permits, we hope to deliver some face to face workshops and short courses too.  Please speak to us if you feel this would be appropriate for your setting.

* Over a third of the working age population do not have English at level 2 (GCSE) and in maths, it’s over half, so our target group for these courses is quite wide!

Details of the range of courses are below. Where possible, we are current asking that people sign up for the courses through our online booking system but please feel free to phone 01904 554277 if any support is needed to do this.

Family Learning courses 2019/20 – Information for Partners

For more information on any of the courses below, or to book, please call 01904 554277, call or text 07785546366, or email family.learning@york.gov.uk.

Early Start

For parents, grandparents and carers with 1-2 year olds, practical courses which include adult learning and adult/child together activities.


Early Start: Word and pictures (10 weeks)

Story telling, songs and rhymes to develop language, confidence reading aloud, motor skills development, games with sounds, get started with phonics, the importance of praise.


Early start: number and rhyme (10 weeks)

Early maths skills, songs and rhymes to develop language and rhythm, social skills: listening, turn-taking and sharing.


Early start: learning and play (10 weeks)

Widening a child’s experiences and language through indoor and outdoor activities, creating quiet and safe places, motors skills and coordination, growing independence in eating and dressing, York for free, safety outdoors.

Have Fun with Learning

For parents, carers and grandparents of 2-7 year olds, these courses are aligned with the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 curriculum.


Learn together (10 weeks)

Including a look at the benefits of outdoor play, preparing for muck and accidents, going on a journey and sequencing, understanding the world activities with popular picture books, story sacks, maps and props.


Read, write, count (10 weeks)

Look at the development of language and number skills, how to bridge the word gap,  introduction to phonics, mark-making, fine motor skills, number trails and treasure hunts, fun with shape and measure.


Get creative (5 weeks)

Sharing thoughts, ideas and feelings through music and drama, junk modelling, painting, fine and gross motor skills development.


Get ready for school (5 weeks)

Developing routines, encouraging independence and concentration, asking adults for help, managing feelings, school meals and snacks.

Support Your Child’s Learning in School

For parents, grandparents and carers with children in primary school

How Children Learn courses are aligned with the KS1 and KS2 primary curriculum in English and maths and are an opportunity for parents to get a Functional Skills qualification in English or maths.


How children learn English or maths at school

A one term course covering how English or Maths is currently taught, including homework tips and ideas for extending children’s learning at home, new techniques and terminology.


Keep up with the children in English or maths

Building on the previous term, this two-term course builds up confidence and leads to an up to date adult qualification in English or maths (Functional Skills).

Also available for families with children of any age:

Happy, Healthy, Safe,
Fit Food, Fit Kids
and a range of workshops.

Free Workshops & Workshops with a focus on adult learners

For parents, grandparents and carers of children aged 0-11.

Fun with phonics Time for Tables Forest Families
More from Stories Seasonal Crafts Fit Families
Healthy Lunchbox Souper-heroes Safe Online

Workshops with a focus on adult learners

Value My skills Stress Less Time out for me

Any of our workshops can be booked as a one-off in a specific venue, or we can run several in a series.

Working with Family Learning – Information for making referrals

The Family Learning team has worked here in York for over 20 years. We know full well that many adult learners come back to learning after they have children because they want to do what’s best for their kids, so Family Learning is a great motivator and way of engaging with our families.  It’s a powerful, flexible tool which provides a second chance for the adults who quickly make friends and realise they’re not alone; a great start for the child with parents who develop the confidence and skills to support their learning; and raised aspirations and social mobility for the whole family.

We are always grateful to receive referrals onto Family Learning courses. Please read the guidance below to ensure that you understand our eligibility and referral criteria:

Parents and carers often tell us that they feel awkward about going in to school or pre-school settings, saying they don’t know how to support their children or that they don’t understand the teaching methods being used. Some of them may have had an unsettled education themselves or had negative experiences in their own learning which has led to a lack of confidence.Family Learning’s main strength lies in the fact that we have time to listen to our adult learners. We help them to realise and build on the experience and knowledge they already have, giving them the confidence to support their children and also to tackle issues around their own learning and develop their skills. Learner feedback and research consistently shows us that this approach leads to higher achievement and aspirations for both adult and child.

We are always looking for new ideas and approaches. One way we do this is through our partnership work, judged to be “outstanding” in our last three Ofsted inspections. Our partners include school and children centre teams, Job Centre Plus, Libraries and Archives, The Centre for Lifelong Learning, the Travellers’ Trust, York District Hospital and Higher York. More recently we have been asked to support work with refugees and are working on projects with the Citizens Advice Bureau, Big Local and York City Football Club.

These courses are funded by central government through the Adult Skills Budget and as such, the primary aim is to engage with people who missed out first time around on English and/or maths qualifications.  They are funded for and so aimed at people who did not obtain a grade C or 4 in GCSEs in English and/or maths.  (As this is over half the working age population, the potential audience is quite a lot!)

To be eligible for the funding, participants need to be 19+ on 31 August 2019, have had UK or EU/EEA resident status for the past three years, or be married to someone with UK or EU/EEA resident status for the past three years. Other groups such as army families and refugees are also funded – please ask for further details if needed.  Families who are here solely for university/education purposes are not usually funded for these courses.

Information, Advice and Guidance: York Learning participate in a number of projects which involve one to one advice and guidance for individuals and many of our team are trained in delivering IAG which is offered to all of our learners.  We are also developing a wider IAG training and networking package to assist those of us working in communities to link up the work we are doing and facilitate signposting and referrals to wider support services.

Childcare:  Funding for childcare is very limited and we are only able to supply a basic amount of childcare at each venue.  Because of child-adult ratios, we ask that if you are referring a new learner with a child who is under 1, that you fund a childcare worker to support them (£450 for a 10 week course).  Alternatively, we may be able to fund childcare with an Ofsted registered provider as part of our Learner Support package, if one has been identified.

Additional Support Needs: Where an additional support need is known for an adult learner, we are usually able to organise volunteers and/or paid support workers to work alongside the tutors.  Please ensure you speak to one of our team in advance of a course starting if you feel a learner you are referring will need specific support to access the course. Similarly, if a child attending our childcare provision needs additional support, please ensure our team has details in advance of the course starting.

Participants on the courses need to have enough English to be able to follow general discussion and straightforward texts used on the course.  For those who are still learning the language, by far the best course of action is to refer them to our ESOL provision, where they will be taught by expert language tutors to develop the grammar and language they need at a level appropriate to them. ESOL is fully funded for those who are earning less that £16009.50 per annum, and part funded for others.

We have capacity to deliver Early Start and potentially Get Ready for School – type courses specifically for ESOL learner groups and if there is sufficient demand in any one venue, then we can talk to you about putting these on.

We will consider individual cases when it comes to referrals to our non accredited provision: Early Start, Family Learning short courses and How Children Learn (autumn term).  We can for example consider a young mum or a parent whose children are attending one of our host school venues.

However for accredited courses, including Keep Up and our mainstream English and maths courses, learners need to be eligible as detailed above.  If in doubt, please discuss individual cases with us before referring onto a course so that we can ensure the learner is directed to the most appropriate provision. To refer an individual onto our English and maths programmes, including Keep Up, please book a skills assessment.

Finally, Family Learning is a wonderful package, with positive impact on the adult, child and the wider community.  It’s a great “mover on” of lives.  However, we can’t provide a solution to all problems and sometimes it’s best to wait until a learner has dealt with crisis issues such as housing or drugs/alcohol problems before the added pressure of commitment to a course. If you refer someone who has anxiety issues or hasn’t previously been attending a regular group, then we ask that you arrange for someone to bring them along to the first session.  The deal is, if you can get them to us, we will do our best to make it work!

If you have any queries on any of the above, please contact:

Individual learner eligibility queries: Fiona Himsworth, fiona.himsworth@york.gov.uk

Course content and development: Claire Wilton, claire.wilton@york.gov.uk

Information, Advice and Guidance / Community Learning Champions:  Grainne Hillery, grainne.hillery@york.gov.uk

or call us on 01904 554277.