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Families Connect

Supporting parents and children to learn together

Increasing parents’ skills and confidence to support their child’s learning.


In the UK, children from lower income families are 50% less likely to do as well at school as their wealthier classmates. 

Read an overview of the independent evaluation of Families Connect.

Only a small fraction of children’s learning takes place at school, so the better the home environment, the better the child’s learning can be. 

That’s why we’ve developed Families Connect. 


How Families Connect works

Families Connect focuses on supporting parents and children to learn together.

It helps parents to support their children’s learning in three key areas:

  • Social and Emotional Development 
  • Literacy and Language Development
  • Numeracy

The eight-week programme provides a series of activities, techniques and games that parents and carers can do with their children at home.

Each activity encourages parents and children to spend quality time together by talking about specific topics and reflecting on what they already do to support their children’s learning.

Parents also discuss the science behind the programme’s activities. These informal workshops invite parents to explore new games and approaches that might help them to support their child’s learning at home.

Save the Children has adapted Families Connect to be suitable for three-year-olds informed by co-design with families and piloting in nurseries across the UK. The updated programme for three-to-six -year-olds is available to schools with nursery provision and Children's Centres.


The impact

To build on the emerging evidence base from our internal evaluations, Save the Children sought funding from the Nuffield Health Foundation to partner with NEFR and Queens University Belfast to undertake an independent randomised controlled trial and implementation evaluation of Families Connect. This was designed to build on previous promising findings, to strengthen our understanding of the programme’s impact on parent and child outcomes and identify where the programme could be strengthened and improved, along with continual delivery feedback and review. Our aim was to advance our collective understanding, as a sector, of how best to support parental engagement and children’s early learning. 

Thirty-one schools from disadvantaged areas across the UK (England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland) delivered Families Connect as part of the independent evaluation. A total of 499 children aged four to six from 483 families took part.  

The evaluation found that Families Connect increases parental engagement in children’s learning, improves parental skills, and improves aspects of children’s social and emotional development.  

You can view the full report and the executive summary.

Lord, P., Rennie, C., Smith, R., Gildea, A., Tang, S., Miani, G., Styles, B. and Bradley, C. (2020). Randomised Controlled Trial Evaluation of Families Connect. NFER, Slough.  

Save the Children would like to thank the Nuffield Foundation and all those who conducted the evaluation and compiled the report at NFER and Queen’s University Belfast.  

The project has been funded by the Nuffield Foundation, but the views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the Foundation. Visit www.nuffieldfoundation.org

We have produced a briefing document to accompany the full report, which provides an overview of the evaluation findings and sets out our approach for developing Families Connect and priorities for future research, policy and practice.  

Previous Reports

Families Connect Impact Report 2018, UK wide

Adapting Families Connect for 3 year olds pilot 
(an interim evaluation report)

Families Connect Summer Evaluation 2016

Families Connect Autumn Evaluation 2016 

Families Connect Privacy Notice


The programme in action

Nadine and her son Regan, 4, take part in a Families Connect session at their school in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Nadine and her son Regan, 4, take part in a Families Connect session at their school in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Nadine took part in Families Connect with her son, Regan.

She says: “Regan has speech problems, so when we talked about books and things like that it really helped him along with his speech."

"Now he’s interacting with other things, counting, reading books or playing with other toys he’s hardly looked at before.”

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