Last Updated: Thursday, December 08, 2022

Family learning - Science, Glasgow Clyde College

What is this?

This exemplar highlights the creative approaches used to engage parents with little or no previous experience in science to undertake a series of learning experiences related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) topics.

Who is this for?

​This will be most relevant for CLD practitioners and schools who are supporting family learners facing challenges with supporting children under STEM topics.

Between 2016 and 2017, a group of parents from St Mary’s Primary School in Maryhill, Glasgow were supported by Glasgow Clyde College’s Community Learning and Development section to undertake a series of classes that focused on STEM, literacy and numeracy and wellbeing. The motivation for the parents to undertake these areas of study was driven by the need to be more engaged with their children’s learning. However, it ultimately engaged the parents in gaining greater knowledge for themselves as adult returners. As well as increasing confidence to support their children in these topic areas, the classes resulted in the parents, for the first time, gaining a qualification in a science-based subject.

How to use this exemplar

Follow the key stages of development to build a programme that will both engage and inform parents and focus on the dual goals of becoming more engaged in family learning while raising their own skill levels to become more effective parent/carer educators.

Explore the reflective questions to develop a creative and supportive environment for parent/carers.

  • How aware are parents/carers of the role they play as a support to the learning their children are undertaking within school curricular areas such as literacy, numeracy, STEM, wellbeing?
  • How confident are parents/carers in supporting their children with learning around these curricular areas?
  • How aware are parents of their own strengths and areas for development in order to become effective supporters of their children or those in their care?
  • How do you support parents/carers that have their own difficulty with literacy and numeracy?
  • Do we need to develop specific programmes under literacy and numeracy that will underpin learning in STEM and wellbeing topics?
  • What methods can we use that are engaging to parents particularly in areas they may find challenging within the school curriculum such as STEM, literacy and numeracy?
  • How can we build a programme of learning that both develops the child and the parent/carer together?
  • How do we establish a culture of learning amongst parents/carers that will encourage progression with their own learning in order to close the attainment gap?

Explore this exemplar

What was done?

Glasgow Clyde College’s Community learning and Development section, as part of their outreach programme, engaged with parents from a North-West Glasgow primary school. These parents expressed an interest in learning something that would interest them as adults but would equally support them in helping their children with school work.

In order to fulfil this request, the college provided a programme of learning that involved the parents attending tutor led visits to the Glasgow Science Centre, undertaking a college led bridging course targeting gaps in literacy and numeracy and completing a certificated environmental study course titled Counting on a Greener Scotland, delivered by the Workers Education Association. This was followed by a health and wellbeing course which will be cascaded to Parents and their children involved in the programme under tutor guidance.

A targeted programme of learning needed to be developed which would raise the confidence and skills of the parents.


Most of the parents readily accepted that they felt challenged when asked to support aspects of their children’s learning, particularly in areas such as literacy, numeracy and science.

While parents had attended the local Glasgow Science Centre, it had only been as adult helpers. The opportunity to participate in a tutor led programme of activity engaged the parents in the idea of science.

The initial participation on the taster course created an interest for more learning under a science-based subject. This resulted in the SCQF level 4 course on environmental studies ‘Counting on a Greener Scotland’ being delivered.

Parents recognised that there were gaps in their own literacy and numeracy which had both an impact on their ability to support their children in these areas and to undertake a certificated course within a science-based topic., To support this, a bridging course on literacy and numeracy was developed.

The momentum gained from parental involvement needed to be encouraged and progressed so a programme of parents learning new knowledge, which can be cascaded to their children, was established under health and wellbeing.

What was the impact?

As a result of the family learning programme developed by Glasgow Clyde College and supported by the Workers Educational Association’s environmental studies programme, parents became more confident in supporting their children in areas such as STEM, literacy and numeracy and wellbeing thereby adding to the raising the attainment agenda.

A bridging course of literacy and numeracy gave parents increased knowledge and confidence to support their children in these core skills as well as providing them with the necessary skills to take on a certificated course of study within a science subject.

The parents gained, for the first time, a credit rated piece of learning within a science-based subject.
The new knowledge gained in science encouraged the parents to undertake joint areas of learning with their children around a STEM based topic.

Parents reported that they were creating a greater ethos of learning within the home as a result of both parents and children undertaking “homework” for their respective areas of study at the same time.

Parents are now confident to undertake a role (under the guidance of a tutor) of educator to their children on a wellbeing topic.