Parents and Children Learn and Play Together through FAST Randomized Control Trial in UK

4/11/16

Almost 30 families from a Keighley school have worked together on a ground-breaking relationships programme.

The 27 families of pupils at Parkwood Primary School have graduated after completing the eight week Families and School Together (FAST) programme.

FAST was developed to improve relationships within families, between parents and schools, and between parents themselves.

The overall aim of the scheme – which is spearheaded by the Save The Children charity – is to build a stronger community.

Organisers say the pioneering education scheme been proven to help children achieve more in schools and dramatically improve their relationships with their families.

Weekly fun activities included ‘emotion charades’, singing, physical activities, shared meals and training for parents in how to play and set boundaries.

Among those taking the lead on the FAST programme were Parkwood parents Shabana Islam, Shakeela Bi, Julita Szulc, Laura Robinson and Rizwana Kauser.

Around 200 people involved in the FAST programme ‘graduated’ at a celebration event last month, (March) wearing “mortar boards” and gowns made by the children.

People took along items for a buffet tea, and after the presentations there was a family disco and a photobooth with special guests including Frozen heroine Elsa and Spiderman.

FAST will continue at Parkwood School with parents taking the lead.

School head Richard Ballantine said FAST had taken relationships between schools and families to a “whole new level”.

He added: “So many people have put so much energy and enthusiasm into this, including families, staff, governors and community partners.

“Children and families have looked forward to FAST every week and it has not disappointed; we have grown as a community as a result of this and would recommend it to any other school which is happy to commit to it wholeheartedly.”

The FAST programme is being run as part of a Randomised Control Trial delivered throughout England by Save The Children, in partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation and the National Foundation for Educational Research.
The control trial is independently assessing the impact that FAST has on children’s learning as well as their social and emotional development.

The organisations said the dedication and passion of the team – including parents, children and school staff – had made the programme at Parkwood one of the most successful in the country, with an almost-unheard-of 100 per cent retention rate.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Education, Skills and Culture, welcomed the success of the Parkwood programme.

She added: “It’s so important for educational achievement that parents and families are involved in their child’s education. The Bradford Education Covenant emphasises this fact so it’s good to see it in practice at Parkwood Primary.”

Parental involvement worker Caroline Patterson said: “It’s been an honour and a privilege to have been witness to parents enjoying their children, enjoying themselves and building a school community.”

FAST was originally developed in the USA by Professor Lynn McDonald and the programme is now running throughout the whole of the UK as well as eight other countries

The scheme, which has been endorsed by the United Nations, involves parents leading the activities each week.

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