Last Updated: Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Using a Family Learning approach to Safe Play in Royston, Glasgow

What is this?

Safe Play is a family learning project that helps parents to develop the skills and confidence to support their child with their learning, health and wellbeing and any additional identified needs.  The project used a holistic family learning social practice approach during COVID-19.

Who is this for?

This is most relevant to family learning practitioners, schools and educators working with families facing challenges during COVID-19.

How to use this exemplar to improve practice?

This case study along with reflective questions invites you to consider your own approach to engaging families in family learning programmes. You are invited to read the case study and consider individually or as a team, the following improvement questions:

  • What evidence do we have that family learning is improving the life chances of the family involved?
  • Are outcomes for children improving as a result of their participation in family learning?
  • To what extent can we demonstrate that families are participating, feeling included and are achieving and progressing?
  • How do you support parents that have their own challenges with literacy and numeracy?
  • How can we build a programme of learning that both develops the child and the parent together?
  • How do we ensure that the health and wellbeing needs of families are being considered and met?

Explore this exemplar

Photo of 2 children playing basketballWhat was done?

This partnership programme was developed to provide a safe, socially distant outdoor play sessions to support isolated families in Royston, Glasgow during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sessions were held in the familiar school playground in their local community taking account of health and safety protocols, access for families and risks that may be present. One family at a time was invited to meet two members of the Family Learning Team. Each family were given their own play pack and this wasn’t shared with anyone else.

One staff member supported play while the other spent time with the parent, providing information and support to address current needs.

The team also worked in partnership with Royston Youth Action who provided food and fuel vouchers to 20 families each week. The Family Support and Engagement Worker delivered these safely to families, and the team also followed up each play session by making referrals to benefit advice, food banks, and other third sector organisations as appropriate.


Photo of play thingsMost of the families engaged with, live in high rise flats and have limited or no access to a garden or green space and are required to use a small communal lift to get outside. The Glasgow Life Family Support and Engagement Worker and Family Learning Officer based at Saint Roch’s Primary in Royston identified a number of children who had not left their home in weeks and fear of the outside had become a huge concern. One parent said ’We were scared to take the children out’, while a child kept telling their parent ‘I will die if I go outside’.

Many of the families have English as an Additional Language and were finding it difficult to access the information they needed, especially as many also don’t have good access to the internet.

What was the impact?

The programme evidenced:

  • Improved Family Wellbeing:
    ‘In March I wasn’t sleeping and crying a lot. I kept phoning my husband and saying ‘I think I am dying’. I was very depressed. Seeing Margaret and Laura was good. I wasn’t going anywhere because I was scared. The play sessions helped me to feel safe outside’.
  • Improved access to information:
    ‘At this time of the pandemic it was so helpful. I was able to ask questions about what we were allowed to do. We felt panic…it helped to calm us and feel safe’.
  • Increased parental engagement with learning at home:
    ‘Learning at home has been difficult. My children were not listening. Margaret spoke to their teacher and they gave me lots of nice books and games to help’.
  • Improved financial circumstances:
    ‘Having children at home all the time is costing me too much money. I didn’t get the food vouchers through the school as I was working but then I lost my job due to the pandemic. I had to apply for Universal Credit and that was a big struggle for me. Laura helped a lot’.
  • More parents linked with further learning or training:
    ‘Margaret and Laura helped me get an ESOL place at college. I am pleased as I need something to look forward to and I was worried that I was losing my English.