Families and Schools Together (FAST) is an award-winning early-intervention programme that brings parents, children, teachers and the wider community together, to make sure children get the support they need to fulfil their potential at school – and in life.
The impact of growing up in poverty in the UK can last a lifetime. It affects children’s wellbeing, their health, their life expectancy - and it makes them less likely to do well at school than their wealthier peers.
One in five children in England is not reading well when they leave primary school. For children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, the figure is more than one in three. And by the time they reach GCSEs, many of the poorest children have fallen even further behind.
We’ve established the FAST programme across the UK. FAST builds stronger bonds between parents, schools and communities to make sure children get the support they need to do their best at school.
How FAST works
The programme consists of an eight-week cycle of activity sessions, as well as help for parents to develop learning at home and ongoing support at school and within the community.
FAST helps children improve their skills in reading, writing and maths – as well as encouraging a positive attitude to learning. It helps parents support their child's learning and development at home. And it encourages stronger bonds between parents, children, teachers and the school community.
FAST has already transformed the lives of thousands of families in the UK. Between 2009 and 2015, 11,658 families took part in the programme, and those who took part in school year 2013-14 told us:
- children’s behavioural problems decreased by 26%
- family conflicts dropped by 24%
- 74% of parents felt more able to support their child in his or her education.
Our ambition is to deliver FAST to more than 50,000 children by 2017. This will help us build evidence to present to the government, to ensure parental-support programmes like FAST are available to all families.
To help with this we are working with Loughborough University, the National Foundation for Education Research and the Education Endowment Foundation to conduct a large-scale trial to scientifically evaluate the impact of FAST on children. Up to 160 schools will be taking part in the trial - the first of its kind outside the USA.
What you can do to help
The more support we receive, the more children we can reach in the UK's most deprived areas.
Interested in volunteering?
We're looking for volunteers to help run the programme in schools. You'll be matched to a school near you and will need commit to two days' training, one review day and one afternoon a week for eight weeks.
As well as being a valuable way to help children fulfil their potential, volunteering is a great way to get involved in your local community. It’s also a really fun and rewarding way to learn new skills and meet new people.
Calling schools and councils
We're also looking for schools and local authorities to help us to bring FAST to more communities. If you can help, please email FAST@savethechildren.org.uk.
Find out more on our FAST UK website.
Last updated: January 2016.