Families that read together . . .

14th November 1997 at 00:00
A literacy course set up to improve the academic and employment prospects of disadvantaged families is continuing to raise achievements two years after it ended.

Parents and children taking part in the Family Literacy Demonstration Programmes showed better basic skills and greater achievements in the classroom and workplace than might otherwise have been expected, say researchers.

The 12-week courses were for parents with low basic skills who had children aged three to six.

Of the 753 parents and children who originally took part, 391 were tracked by researchers from the National Foundation for Educational Research on behalf of the Basic Skills Agency.

Their study, which involved families from Cardiff, Liverpool, Norfolk and North Tyneside, revealed that all of the 237 children contacted had maintained good levels of reading, writing, and vocabulary and that their behaviour was better than that of their peers.

Of the 154 parents who took part, two-thirds were in work compared with 29 per cent three years ago, and 60 per cent had taken at least one course of study since their literacy had improved. Of these, half had achieved at least one qualification and almost half intended to continue studying.

In addition, 95 per cent said improvements in their own literacy had enabled them to help their children with their schoolwork.

Parents also demonstrated greater involvement in their children's schools, with 48 per cent becoming literacy helpers.

Alan Wells, the director of the agency, told its annual conference in London this week that more initiatives needed to be developed.

Dorothy Lepkowska

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