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Family Learning

Creating family learning opportunities - making families and communities stronger

Do your organisation want to provide effective learning for tertiary priority learners who aren’t ready to choose a vocational or career path?   Is your community looking for innovative approaches to engage hard to reach or vulnerable families? 

Family literacy and learning programmes provide a great starting point for adult learners with low literacy and limited confidence in learning.

  • Think  wide  – parent, care giver, grandparent, aunts and uncles.
  • Think about the adults who stand at the school gates but don’t come it, who are not sure about how to help their children.
  • Think about parents who have to meet work obligations.

New opportunities

COMET owns a local Level 2 Certificate in Family Learning and Child Development marketed as Whānau Ara Mua – Families Moving Forward (WAM).  The review of tertiary qualifications means our local Certificate goes out of existence at the end of 2016.

But the need for family learning is greater than ever. If you are interested in a  family-facing qualification that breaks the intergenerational cycle of low literacy, Whānau Ara Mua would make  a great starting point. 

  • By the end of 2016, the Solomon Group (now part of Aspire2 Group) will have developed and registered a new programme, Whānau Ara Mua: Certificate in Intergenerational Learning. Successful learners  will achieve an NZ Level 2 Certificate in Foundation Skills.  The Solomon Group are open to working with other providers to have Whānau Ara Mua available in more places.  If you want to learn more,  contact Judy Solomon judy@solomongroup.co.nz
  • Your community may want to design a family-facing qualification from the start.  Click here to access the Whānau Ara Mua handbook. It gives  the structure for how the programme runs and provides lesson plans and resources for tutors on how to get started. To find out more about the design process, please contact alison.sutton@cometauckland.org.nz

The background

The current Certificate is a 34 weeks, 120 credit qualification,).  Currently, our delivery partner is the Solomon Group, who deliver WAM to 220 learners, in 13 sites in low decile communities across Auckland and in Marfell Taranaki. The current Certificate is the only qualification on the NQF that enables adults to develop personal employability skills while also enhancing their capacity as parents and improving their understanding and skills to support their children’s learning.  Outcomes include improved employability, family health and wellbeing, enhanced child learning and development and improved family relationships. The purpose built WAM curriculum includes employability skills, family health and wellbeing, child learning and development and Parent and Child Time Together (a significant amount of independent learning alongside children, documented through photostories and critical journal writing).  WAM is free to learners, who typically are Māori or Pasifika women aged around 30 on Single Parent Benefits with no qualifications.  These tertiary priority learners achieve 75% pass rate; typically about a third transition to higher study and a third to work; overall, the outcomes are very good.

Family Learning works

Family learning and literacy is a circuit breaker and can contribute to the step change in education achievement and intergenerational literacy that we need to meet the targets in the Auckland Plan.

Children with low literacy and school achievement are likely to come from families with low literacy.  Family support is more likely when parents are confident learners themselves.

There is clear evidence in New Zealand and overseas that children start school well prepared and are more likely to achieve when their families:

  • Understand how children learn, particularly in those very important early years
  • Understand how language and early literacy develops
  • Are able to use effective strategies to help learning at home
  • Understand how the education system works and are confident to ask questions and have high expectations of education organisations Understand the importance of their role in helping children learn.

Supporting parents and whānau to improve their literacy and increase engagement in their children’s education will help raise achievement.

Family learning programmes that intentionally build the literacy skills of both parents and children are effective because:

  • They raise the literacy levels of the parents and children
  • They extend parents’ skills in developing their children’s literacy and learning.
  • Learning becomes an explicit and positive part of the life of the family.

Helping adults improve their literacy skills has social and economic benefits for Auckland.

COMET Auckland has been involved in family literacy for more than a decade because we recognise how working inter-generationally is raising the skills of adults improves education achievement for children.

Our family literacy and learning work has been supported for the past four years by partnership funding from the Todd Foundation.

Want to join Auckland’s Family learning network or get more information?
Contact alison.sutton@cometauckland.org.nz


How can we  grow family learning and literacy in Auckland?

  • More coordination of programmes and services and more evidence about what works. Schools can play an important role.
  • A central database and/or website of services
  • Take literacy messages out to families via whanau-facing services.  Make sure there are consistent and evidence-based messages about what is important for developing language and early literacy
  • Focus on speaking and listening; they are the basis of literacy. Families need to be encouraged to use their home languages
  • Build role models, local and whānau/fanau champions for literacy and reading. Develop ways families can help themselves so that this is not just a service deliverable. Think about using the learning assets in wider family groups, workplaces etc.

Next steps

We want to grow a network of family learning organisations across Auckland. If you would like to be involved please contact Alison Sutton alison.sutton@cometauckland.org.nz