FAST (Families And Schools Together)
FAST (Families And Schools Together) is an after-school intervention which involves parents and children coming together to do activities within the school environment. FAST aims to enhance parent-child bonds, family closeness, parent to parent support networks, and parent involvement in school and community. The intention is that sessions will improve the behaviour of the attending pupils, freeing up the teacher to focus on learning to the benefit of the whole class.
FAST sessions are 8 weekly 2.5 hour group sessions after school (usually around 5-8 families in each group), run by trained local partners, that encourage good home routines around homework, mealtimes and bedtimes. The sessions involve communication exercises, a shared meal, team-based activities for both children and parents, plus one-to-one time for parents to spend with their own children.
Save The Children are responsible for disseminating FAST in the UK.
The Education Endowment Foundation ran a project in 2018 investigating the effectiveness of FAST. The evaluation found no evidence of impact on attainment outcomes in Key Stage 1 assessments. The study found a mean effect size of +0.03 for primary reading and -0.02 for primary maths.
The overall rate of attrition for this evaluation was high, for this reason this evaluation has not been included in E4I evidence rating. Considerably more pupils in the intervention group dropped out of the evaluation compared to the control group. The EEF gave the evaluation a moderate security rating for this reason.
The EEF evaluation found that FAST can be an effective mechanism for engaging parents in their children's early education, 83% of parents that began FAST attended six or more sessions. This rate of attendance is notable as getting parents to attend sessions is often difficult.
The Education Endowment Foundation is keen to build the evidence on what works to increase parental engagement, and this project provided an exciting opportunity to test a highly regarded intervention.