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Professional Insights



How Roma mothers planned and led family learning programmes

The Mobile Family Literacy Project investigated the potential for literacy programmes to meet the needs of mobile communities in Scotland.   It sought to identify factors which influence family participation by co-producing pilot programmes with mobile families in their local areas.  Each programme ran for up to 16 weeks across three different locations.  An important measure of success was the extent to which groups assumed ownership of the programme and sustained interest in attending.  This insight focuses on Roma families, Cuthbertson Primary School, Govanhill, Glasgow and strategies for establishing groups to lead their own learning beyond the duration of a project.


The following features of programme content, structure and practice were required to ensure that participation and engagement were sustained:

  • Empower participants by embedding leadership roles at early stages.
  • Focus on culturally relevant and transferable skills that will be useful in the home learning environment.
  • Produce tangible resources that can be shared and are useful in other places and during periods of mobility.
  • Ensure transparency so that families can see the benefits  of participation for themselves and other family members.
  • Broker relationships and form networks within the wider community to extend skills and offer new learning pathways.

Roma-led programme Activities

Participants created things that they could share with their families at home such as a recipe book, craft objects and e-stories for sharing with children. Participants’ confidence grew throughout the project as new practical skills were developed.  They were clear that they wanted to develop more activities.

Participants developed their communication and literacy skills in practical ways and by taking ownership of activities. They organised trips to historical and cultural sights in Glasgow and took responsibility for finding new learning opportunities within the school and local community.

Participants worked together to find out what support was available in the local community, including adult literacy programmes, library resources, local charities and staff from statutory and non-statutory education providers.  They visited in small groups and familiarised themselves with staff and procedures.

What happened next? A parent-run craft club

All those involved in the initial pilot expressed the need for the family group to continue. School staff and parents have worked together to create a regular family group named ‘The Craft Club’ by the parents.  The Club is held in the primary school and is run by the families with ongoing support from staff and the EAL practitioner.   The positive relationships built between the staff and families have improved communication and home-school links, empowered parents to voice interest and concerns, and encouraged active involvement in the school and their children’s learning.  The parents have growing ambition of what can be achieved. Next term they will be working with an artist for a few sessions.