Fathers’ Story Week 2012 Thursday, June 14, 2012 - 11:17
NIACE highlighted the significant role that dads and male carers need to and increasingly do play in children's learning, this Fathers' Story Week (11-17 June 2012).
Supportive home environments and the engagement of parents and carers in children's progression from the earliest days are crucial to developing a learning family, one where adults improve their own skills as well as passing on skills and a love of learning to their children.
As women are still predominantly the main carer it is important that men actively carve out spaces and time to help them achieve this. The inspiring learning journeys that many fathers take in order to better support their children are often highlighted during Adult Learners' Week, through the stories of the remarkable award winners:
Paul Cornwall struggled to cope with reading and spelling, which had an effect on his education as a whole and he left school with no GCSEs. He decided to return to education to improve his own life and to give his two children better support, having grown up in a disruptive environment with no home support for his own education. Paul enrolled at Aquinas College and initially took GCSEs in Psychology and Maths, having been offered support to help with dyslexia diagnosis. He then gained work as a support worker in a drug and alcohol treatment centre. He worked full time and studied at evening classes, gaining an English GCSE and a Level 3 NVQ in Health and Social Care. Paul is now halfway through an Access to University course and has secured a place at university to study Psychology. He said:
"My experience of adult education has not only transformed my life and my family, I am now able to be an advocate for the benefits of learning as an adult."
Many adults find that having children is the push they need to go back to education for themselves...A campaign like Fathers' Story Week, encouraging dads to support their children's learning, will be, as some of the Adult Learners' Week stories show, the first step to better adults skills.
James Stratton's teenage years were marred by drugs and crime, resulting in time at a rehabilitation centre. On leaving rehab, he learned that his former partner had given birth to his son, and it was then James vowed never to return to his former ways. He applied for custody of his son and began parenting courses, followed by levels 1 and 2 in Numeracy and Literacy, through the Probation Service. James was granted custody and a volunteering position at Plymouth's Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB) led paid work. In his two years at CAB, James grabbed every training opportunity and now sees a future for himself and his young family. He said:
"Having the opportunity to train and learn at this stage in my life has been instrumental in helping me turn my life around... I'd love to learn further to better help people and give back where I once just took away."
William Ride became a single father of his two sons after his wife's death from leukaemia. After approaching his Sure Start centre for help, Barnardo's asked him to consider forming a fathers' group. Starting with a Saturday morning brunch club and a Dads and Tots Group, activities have spread rapidly throughout Derby including two conferences. He was also on a fundraising committee to pay for trips for families to local attractions. William had always found learning difficult, but he was determined to do his best for his children, so he took courses in Parenting, Diversity and Safeguarding, Handling Children's Behaviour and Child Protection. Now he is taking the NCFE Level 1 Working with Children course and plans to make this his career. William said:
"The learning I have done on the course has given me the skills in childcare and helped me with my knowledge and understanding."
Carol Taylor, NIACE Director for Development and Research, said:
"Many adults find that having children is the push they need to go back to education for themselves - maybe to improve their English skills, maybe to retrain to work with children, maybe to improve their skills for the workplace. A campaign like Fathers' Story Week, encouraging dads to support their children's learning, will be, as some of the Adult Learners' Week stories show, the first step to better adults skills."