The Reading Bus, “A capital idea”

Research output: Contribution to conferenceUnpublished paperpeer-review


This paper focuses on the potential of parents to develop and use social capital generated through research activities organised by the Aberdeen Reading Bus. The Reading Bus project is a multiagency partnership between schools, local libraries and colleagues working in adult learning, family learning and Community Learning and Development, with support and input from school liaison police officers, the Arts Education team and Arts Development team, storytellers and authors. The aims of the Reading Bus are: to promote reading as a source of life long pleasure; to raise the attainment and achievement of children at risk of early failure; to encourage family learning in a non-school environment; and to involve and empower parents in their children's learning. Funding was secured from the Scottish Action Research Fund to allow a research mentor to work with a group of parents at a school in Aberdeen. This funding was seen as an opportunity for capacity building with community members, not only in their role as parents but in the ongoing development of the Reading Bus Programme. The group of parents chose to investigate "What motivates boys to read". Their research led to a pilot programme being developed in two schools around their findings. This paper undertakes a meta-analysis of the research activity outlined above and focuses on the impact of the activity on the parent researchers. The main method of data collection was through a set of semi-structured interviews with the parent researchers. The aim of the interviews was to explore their journey in relation to the research activity and the impact of that journey on their family and their relationship with the school. Interviews took place shortly after the parents had formally completed their research project but when they were still meeting informally as a group. The theoretical frame of reference for this research is the concept of social capital and we draw on the work undertaken by the Applied Education Research Scheme Schools and Social Capital Network. The key concepts of social capital are bonding, bridging and linking capital alongside networks, norms, trust and reciprocity. These concepts are useful in that they allow for the exploration of the impact of the relational aspect within an informal learning context. The paper explores how social capital practices of bonding, bridging and linking were developed and utilised by the group of parents in relation to each other, the school and the community.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2009
EventCentre for Research in Lifelong Learning International Conference - University of Stirling, Stirling, United Kingdom
Duration: 23 Jun 200926 Jun 2009


ConferenceCentre for Research in Lifelong Learning International Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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