U.K. Report: Millions of Children Held Back by Their Parents’ Poor Basic Skills

The U.K.’s National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) has just released a report that serves as something of a response to the latest international survey of adult basic skills conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), aka PIAAC (the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies). Adults in England and Wales generally scored below average in the survey—especially among 16-24 year-olds.

The NIACE’s Inquiry into Family Learning was launched about a year ago to look at the impact of family learning and “develop new thinking and to influence public policy.” The Inquiry commissioners’ report, Family Learning Works, cites a strong link between children’s success in school and their parent’s educational attainment and suggest that learning opportunities for the entire family should be an integral to the country’s strategies to raise children’s attainment in school. They argue that investing in family learning programs would save money in the long run by cutting back on the need for other government programs that serve vulnerable families.

In the forward to the report, the Chair of the Inquiry writes:

“The recent results of the OECD’s survey of adult skills show that parents’ educational attainment has a stronger-than-average impact on adults’ proficiency in both literacy and numeracy. Adults whose parents have low levels of education are eight times more likely to have poor proficiency in literacy than adults whose parents had higher levels of education. Surely it is a moral outrage that a nation such as ours should be in this position. Evidence shows that family learning could increase the overall level of children’s development by as much as 15 percentage points for those from disadvantaged groups. Family learning has multiple positive outcomes for adults and children, for families and communities. It could, in one generation, change the lives of a whole generation. We would be foolish to miss such an opportunity.” (my emphasis)