From education to employment

Prison initiative for fathers and support project for asylum seekers among winners at national learning awards


Organisations demonstrating imaginative, engaging, and impactful approaches to working with families have today (29 March) been recognised as part of a national celebration of learning.

This year’s winners include an initiative for prisoners to form a bond with their child, a series of money skills workshops for schools and local communities, a scheme to introduce science to underrepresented groups, and a project to help integrate asylum-seeking families.

The Family Learning Awards, by the social inclusion and lifelong learning initiative Campaign for Learning, part of the educational charity NCFE, acknowledge inclusive and impactful work across the UK that’s made a real difference to families over the last year.

Gurpreet Keila, Deputy Director for Projects at Campaign for Learning, said:

“The Family Learning Awards recognise organisations that best demonstrate a creative and forward-thinking approach to delivering learning, often in difficult settings and to underserved groups.

“All our winners have identified challenges and found solutions with an undeniable passion for their subjects, and you can’t help but feel inspired by the impact they’ve had on communities and people across the country.”

Full list of award winners:

Family Learning in the Early Years Award, in partnership with CACHE Alumni

Winner: HALOW (Birmingham).

Jolly Tots is an initiative at HMP Oakwood, aiming to provide children aged up to two with a normalised learning opportunity. Dad is no longer required to sit fixed to the seat but is encouraged to lay on the carpet and cuddle up to his child, or to help the child colour and paint. For two hours dad can ‘be dad’ in as normalised a family space as possible.

The Child and Family Workers team at HALOW (Birmingham) said:

“We feel very honoured to have won a Family Learning Award, as our work with children and families is something we all value and enjoy very much! We are very proud to offer the whole family a warm and welcoming environment that is tailored to the ages and stages of young babies, where the focus is on building positive relationships.”

Dawn Newman, CACHE Alumni Communities Manager, said:

“This moving entry showed a deep understanding for, and passion to change, the circumstances and outcomes for families in contact with the prison system using feedback, research and a collaborative approach with parents and authorities to make a real difference to the lives of participants.”

Award for Family Learning to Support Financial Resilience

Winner: Citizens Advice Havant.

There is high deprivation in Havant Borough, with six featuring in the 10% most deprived areas of England. Banking on your Future is a fun money topic series covering six key areas of money skills: shopping, earning, budgeting, saving, borrowing, and banking. It includes school and community workshops where they equip parents with the knowledge to support family finances.

Jon Stuart, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Havant, said: “We are delighted to win this award. It is recognition of the skills, expertise, and dedication of our fantastic Work out your money project team who have helped thousands of people and families gain improved money skills which in turn improves both their quality of life and wellbeing.”

Award for Family Learning to Support Health and Wellbeing

Winner: Learning Unlimited, London.

The Welcome Project delivers weekly sessions for asylum seeking families with children under five who live in hotel accommodation. Each session provides the opportunity for adults and children to learn English in an informal setting, and key health and wellbeing topics are covered with parents, including the UK health system, maternity and health visiting services, healthy eating, oral health, bathing babies, sleep, and the importance of outdoor play.

Sarah Rees, Family Learning Specialist, and Foufou Savitzky, Family and Offender Learning Specialist, at Learning Unlimited said:

“Asylum seekers and refugees face increasing challenges in London today. Many are confined to very small hotel rooms and have virtually no disposable income to spend on exercise and keeping fit. This, for many, is compounded by deep psychological problems which directly impact on their ability to socialise or access services.

“Winning this award will help put asylum seekers’ needs and general situations on the map where they deserve to be. Hopefully as a result of this there will be a greater understanding of their situation and what we, in family learning can do to help.

“We are extremely proud of the many social and emotional changes and achievements made by the families we work with. Very traumatised children have been supported to make friends, develop social skills, and successfully settle into nursery. Babies are now joining in story and song time and enjoying the extra attention from their parents.”

Award for Family Learning to Support STEM, in partnership with Maths on Toast

Winner: Department of Physics, Astronomy and Maths, University of Hertfordshire.

Cosmic Curiosity is a collaborative project between Hertfordshire Libraries and the University of Hertfordshire. In each library four sessions were held for children aged four to seven and, in addition, parents and carers were included as their misconceptions surrounding science, scientists, and science careers, as well as their own confidence in science, can have a large impact on a child’s future aspirations. Each of the sessions was themed around a career in space science.

Nuala O’Flynn, Outreach and Public Engagement Manager, said:

“It’s an amazing feeling to have our hard work recognised. Working on this project was an incredible experience, and witnessing the delight of families engaging in science learning was truly heart-warming. Moving forward, we are excited to collaborate on future initiatives and expand this program in the years to come to have further impact on families’ connection with science learning.”

Susan Bugby, Co-Director Content and Programmes at Maths on Toast, said:

“This project showed a really engaging way to involve families with STEM subjects from an early age. There was a lot of thought put into the training of staff to allow the project to run well and to continue after the sessions were finished and focus on building parent confidence, as well as the fun activities for the children.  The recording of follow up activities such as STEM books, bookmarks, QR codes with follow up suggestions was really imaginative, and we felt this was a great way to record the success of the project and build on for future sessions.”

To discover more about the winners and shortlisted organisations, visit

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