The impact of family literacy programmes

This project examined the impact of family literacy programmes on children's reading and writing skills and on literacy practices at home. It was a mixed-methods study, focusing on 27 family literacy programmes across England offered to children in Years 1 and 2, and their parents.

Key Findings
  • Family literacy programmes were found to have a positive effect on children’s reading scores. Children who attended the programmes made greater gains in their reading than children who did not attend programmes.
  • Extensive changes in the home literacy environment were self-reported by the families participating in the programmes. The study found strong evidence of increased parental understanding of school literacy processes and pedagogies over the course of the intervention. It also found that families in the programmes took part in shared literacy activities more frequently. However, this finding cannot provide evidence of a direct causal relationship between programme participation and changes in the home learning environment.

This study found that family literacy programmes provide a wide range of benefits for family literacy providers, schools, parents and their children. There is a strong case, therefore, for maintaining and supporting these programmes.

The findings and detailed implications for policy-makers, practitioners, providers and researchers are available as an executive summary and full research report.

Project details



Dr John Vorhaus, Dr Jon Swain, and Dr Olga Cara

National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and NumeracyUCL Institute of Education

Grant amount and duration:


1 July 2013 – 31 March 2016



The impact of family literacy programmes on children's literacy skills and the home literacy environment (Nov 2015):

Executive summary

Full research report