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The Children’s Minister gets a FAST education

Sarah Teather, the Minister of State for Children and Families, praised our Families and Schools Together (FAST) programme partnership in Peckham after meeting with parents who had recently graduated from the project at Camelot Primary School, sponsored by the supermarket Morrisons.

Sarah spent Tuesday morning hearing from parents who had taken part in the FAST programme at the school.

“Families are at the heart of a strong, cohesive society. Children can thrive if their parents are engaged in their development from birth, that’s why the government supports parenting programmes that can benefit the child, the parent and the wider local community,” said Sarah.

“My visit to Camelot Primary School was a valuable experience. The positive testimony of parents was a real credit to the work of all the staff at the school and the excellent support they already receive from Save the Children and Morrisons.”

A stronger start at school

Guy Mason from Morrisons also met with the Minister to discuss the supermarket’s partnership with Save the Children.

“By supporting Save the Children, Morrisons is helping to roll out the innovative FAST project to children in communities, such as Peckham and across the UK. We are proud that our partnership is having such a positive impact on the lives of some of the UK’s most disadvantaged children by giving them a stronger start at school.”

Camelot Primary recently hosted one of our biggest-ever FAST graduations, with 38 families completing the project. Premiership footballer Anton Ferdinand, a former pupil of the school, even made a surprise appearance and congratulated children and families on their achievement.

Teresa N’guessan, Camelot’s Headteacher, is clear about the difference that FAST has made to school life.

“Parents need more from us than how to teach their children multiplication. I was quite surprised to see how soon FAST impacted on the children. FAST has improved relationships across the school, not just in the FAST group. My ideal would be for all children to be able to have FAST when they start in reception,” said Teresa.

Proud parents

The most passionate advocates for FAST are parents. Two FAST parents told Sarah Teather how the programme had affected them and their children.

“FAST was a lovely experience. My son now tells me he loves me more and our one-to-one bonding time is better.”

“Whenever I’m feeling a bit down in the morning [another FAST parent] always brightens up my day.”

Other parents who took part in the scheme at Camelot have also seen big changes in their children, like Micky, dad of Sofiyyah, aged six.

“Before FAST, Sofiyyah, didn’t really read much in the house but when we started coming here we have time to read with her which is really helping her in the classes. Since we’ve been coming here she’s changed alot. [At the recent parent’s evening] they said she’s doing very well. Before they used to say wasn’t listening and was moody. Now she’s top of the class and I hope she’ll continue like that!”

Giving children a better start in life

Sarah Teather also spoke at our fringe event at the Liberal Democrat party conference in September last year which showcased FAST and our most recent report, making the case that the government should ensure that all parents from deprived communities have access to programmes that help them to support their children’s early years so that they have the best start in life at school.

She is now overseeing a government trial to create universal parenting entitlement in three areas across England, which will enable tens of thousands of parents with children under five to choose from a variety of parenting support proven to boost children’s chances in life.

Find out more about Families and Schools Together

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