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Project Background Information

Between January 2014 and August 2015, NIACE worked with the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to develop and pilot innovative approaches to engaging families onto family numeracy programmes. The project supported six national pathfinder projects to develop and pilot new family numeracy delivery models which used technology and a ‘flipped classroom’ approach to engage families who are experiencing the most disadvantage. A flipped classroom reverses the traditional delivery method of learning in the classroom followed by consolidation through homework; instead, tutors use videos and online resources to teach learners outside of the classroom and use class time for collaborative work and projects which consolidate learning.

The project was led by NIACE and overseen by a project steering group including the following:

Key Messages and Considerations from the Project


  • Strong partnerships with community organisations are key in engaging learners who are experiencing disadvantage, either through direct referrals or by promoting the course to their clients.
  • Community partners need to be clear about the aim of the programme and the target group to ensure they recruit suitable families.
  • Social media can be an effective way of recruiting families. However, some may not have access to the internet or may not be confident in using social media.
  • Using a range of recruitment methods can help to ensure that a wide range of families are recruited onto a course.


  • Practical and hands-on activities can keep children and parents/carers engaged in courses and encourage them to continue learning outside of sessions.
  • Having a flexible approach to the development of course content ensures that programmes are accessible for learners and tailored to their needs.
  • Co-designing and co-developing a programme with families encourages them to take ownership of their learning and fully engage in activities.

Adopting a flipped classroom approach

  • Successfully implementing a flipped classroom approach can develop a learning culture in the home and encourage families to continue learning in-between sessions and after the programme has finished.
  • Setting families practical homework and allocating time in sessions to discuss their results is an effective way of implementing a flipped classroom approach.
  • Families need to be provided with relevant materials, both online and paper-based, in order for them to continue learning after the course has finished.
  • Tutors need appropriate CPD and ongoing support in order to effectively implement a flipped classroom approach.

Using technology

  • The use of technology, particularly mobile devices such as tablets, can be a highly effective way of keeping learners engaged in the programme and tailoring activities to learners’ interests.
  • Technology can support the implementation of a flipped classroom approach by providing the opportunity for learners to engage through distance learning and easy access to a range of different activities.
  • Some learners may have concerns about e-safety, so it is important to address these in any programme which uses technology or the internet as a learning resource.
  • Pairing up tutors who are confident in their digital skills with those who need more experience in using technology can be an effective way of enabling delivery staff to develop their skills and confidence in delivering blended Family Learning approaches.
  • To avoid frustrations in using technology, ensure that the course venue has good connectivity and support on hand in case any issues arise.