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Case Study 2 - Nottinghamshire - Education - Parents' and children's skills boosted by Dr Who

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Project: Family Dr Who

Purpose: To get parents and children working together to support children's learning at school, and develop children's and adults' skills in a variety of subjects, including science, technology, engineering, maths, literacy and communication

Funding: £1,045 per course from the Skills Funding Agency

Background

Alison Sisson, family learning development worker in Nottinghamshire Council's Adult and Community Learning Service, wanted to devise a course to appeal to men and boys.

She took her inspiration from the county's libraries, which were due to celebrate the 50th anniversary of cult series Dr Who with a day of family workshops in November last year. In the run-up to the celebration, she ran a course that saw families create Daleks and monsters to be displayed at the event. 'Dr Who has been around for such a long time, so parents can relate to it from their own childhood, but children can relate to it too,' she says.

Action

Sisson compiled a course of six two-hour sessions, with help from library staff and Sutton Community Academy. It was aimed at children aged between seven and 10, and Sisson enlisted help from Kirkby Woodhouse Primary School in Ashfield to recruit parents who had qualifications lower than Level 2 in English and maths.

The course started at the school in September 2013, led by Sisson and a tutor from the academy. Parents and children developed internet research and language skills by studying different Dr Who monsters and reflecting on what made them frightening.

They designed their own monsters, then moved on to the more technical task of creating their own Daleks. They used maths to make a template for the base of the Dalek and created an electronic circuit to light up the creature. They wrote and recorded a speech for their Dalek, so the models could talk.

'Generally, parents came in not feeling very confident,' recalls Sisson. 'But when they finished the course, they were much more confident in working with their children, trying out their practical skills and making things. I was really surprised how engaged the boys were.'

By April this year, six-week Family Dr Who courses had run in four primary schools in the Ashfield district of Nottinghamshire, engaging 30 adults and 35 children.

Sisson hopes to roll out the course across the county's primaries from September.

Outcome

Teachers noticed a marked improvement in some boys' engagement with reading as they progressed through the course.

In total, 87 per cent of parents said they felt more able to help and support their child after completing the course, and 65 per cent said the course had given them confidence in their own ability to learn.

In addition, 86 per cent of parents said the course had a positive impact on their children, while 69 per cent said it had made them more likely to get involved in their children's school or local community.

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  • APA 6th ed.: (2014-07-22). Case Study 2 - Nottinghamshire - Education - Parents' and children's skills boosted by Dr Who. Children Now p. 30.
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  • Chicago 15th ed.: "Case Study 2 - Nottinghamshire - Education - Parents' and children's skills boosted by Dr Who." Children Now, edition, sec., 2014-07-22
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