family learning and employability with Peep

The Learning and Work Institute (L&W) is an independent policy and research organisation dedicated to promoting lifelong learning, full employment and inclusion. Between September 2015 and March 2016, L&W worked with three Family Learning providers - including Peeple - to develop, pilot and evaluate Wider Family Learning models which would increase the employability of parents/carers whilst also equipping them to support their children’s learning and development. Funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the project aimed to gather evidence of the impact that Wider Family Learning programmes can have on the employability of parents/carers, and the contribution this provision can make to improving local partnerships and joined-up working between services.

> Follow the link to download their report: ‘Increasing the Employability of Parents/Carers’, which presents the findings of the pilot evaluation with key recommendations for policy and practice. 

> You can also watch a 3 minute video featuring Peep staff and parents who were involved in the project.

We've included extracts from the Peep elements of the evaluation below.

comments from derby parents

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‘My confidence was very, very low at the start of the course. I began to learn so much - things I didn’t know about children. My life has changed so much. I now sing with my boys. I get down to their level on the floor and join in their play. We have so much fun. Although I know I was a good mum before, I am an even better mum now.’

‘Peep has given me a new light into how my daughter learns and also how much fun it is to join in with your child’s play.’

‘My family wouldn’t be where they are now, without Peep’

‘Peep has helped me give my daughter the best start in life I could possibly offer. She has developed into such a confident, pleasant and inquisitive little girl and this is all because of Peep. Thank you!’

‘Peep is good for the parent providing opportunities and memories and great for your child’s confidence and experiences.’

aims and background of the family employability project for Derby Peep

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Peeple wanted to demonstrate how their Learning Together Programme supports parents to develop skills and competencies which contribute to their employability and long-term career goals. Through their Peep group, parents also created and submitted a portfolio of work which enables them to attain an Entry Level 3, Level 1 or Level 2 NOCN Certificate in ‘Supporting Early Learning at Home’. They worked closely with the Peep Coordinator in Derby to develop and deliver their pilot.

The Peep Learning Together Programme has been delivered in Derby since the introduction of Sure Start Children’s Centres in 2001. The council took the decision to train all of their Children’s Centre workers as Peep practitioners, and have successfully embedded the approach in their Children’s Centre early years provision. 

targeting and planning Peep delivery

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The Peep Coordinator analyses the city’s Early Years Foundation Stage Profile data at the beginning of each academic year, in order to identify areas within the city which have low-scoring areas of learning or general development for under-fives. This then informs the strands and topics of the Peep programme which their practitioners deliver across the city. For example, if it is identified that a particular area of the city has low scores in communication and language, the Children’s Centre Service Manager will work with the Peep practitioners in that children’s centre to embed this strand into their programme for that year.

Once the overall strands have been decided for a programme, Peep practitioners can then access the session plans, topic cards and topic handouts on the Peeple website to plan the content for their programme. The variety of session plans and suggested activities mean that practitioners can choose the most appropriate content to meet the needs of their families. The sessions can be adapted according to different learning styles, the needs of individual parents, and the level which parents may be working at.

Generally, families in Derby attend Peep programme for either one or two terms, and attend on a weekly basis during term time. Each session lasts for an hour and a half and involves talk time around the topic for the day and then activities to think about how it can be embedded into everyday activities, including songs and rhymes or books and stories.

The content of the sessions maps onto the requirements for the NOCN Certificate in Supporting Early Learning at Home. Derby therefore offers all of the parents on their Peep programmes the opportunity to develop a portfolio which can be submitted for assessment and can enable them to gain an Entry Level 3, Level 1 or Level 2 qualification which provides formal recognition of the skills they gain through the Peep programme.

outcomes for parents

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In Derby, the Peep Learning Together Programme was very effective in enabling learners to identify the huge range of skills and competencies that they had developed as parents. Peeple’s approach of first helping parents to recognise the ways in which they already support their children, then helping them to build on and develop this through a tailored but structured programme, helped parents to improve their self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities.

“We support parents to recognise what they're already doing, then we offer ideas for them to do more through everyday routines and activities. Once they become more aware of their children's learning, they say to us they become more empowered.” (Peep Coordinator)

The majority of parents engaged with the programme in order to support their children’s learning, but soon recognised that they were learning as well. The opportunity to gain a qualification through the Peep programme was also valued by learners, as it formalised the skills they had gained as parents and they could put it on their CV.

The recognition of their skills as parents helped many learners to start planning their future careers and the steps they could take to achieve these, so that they were ready to enter employment when their children reach school age. The Peep Coordinator in Derby also found that the Learning Together programme helps parents to realise the wide range of job opportunities available to them, and this often leads them to progress onto further formal courses after completing the programme.

“For many, it opens their eyes to what other opportunities there are out there.  They might have been doing one job before they had their children and then they come along to a Peep session and they realise that there are other job opportunities...  We've got parents who've gone onto college and gone into employment working with young children.” (Peep Coordinator)

Alongside their employability-related outcomes, learners also reported feeling more satisfied as parents, having stronger relationships with their children, feeling more confident to support and talk about their children’s learning, and improving their wider social relationships.

“Everyone has seen a massive change in [my son]. He loves, laughs, reads books and has lots of positive attitude... I have made loads of friends and am more confident and happy than ever. I wish there would be more certified groups like this!” (Learner/ Parent)

outcomes for Peep in Derby

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Many of the Peep practitioners in Derby have other roles within the council – such as children and family support workers - and Peeple has found that they embed the principles of the Peep programme into all of their work. This helps other families across the city to start thinking about the ways they can support their children’s learning and raises awareness of Peeple and their programmes amongst a wide range of parents, professionals and organisations.