About FAST

Families and Schools Together is an award-winning early-intervention programme which 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. 

We believe every child should be happy at school and have the chance to fulfil their potential. We also know how important it is for parents to get the support they need to help their child achieve, learn and develop. 

That's why Save the Children is working in partnership with Middlesex University to deliver FAST in in areas of deprivation and where high numbers of children receive free school meals. Together, we’re committed to creating a lasting legacy for early-intervention and parental support.

How does FAST work?

  • Step 1: Parents of children in a primary school class or year group are invited to attend FAST with their family.
  • Step 2: Up to 40 families attend eight weekly sessions where children and parents take part in structured activities together.
  • Step 3: Weekly sessions are followed by monthly meetings run by graduated FAST families.

Why does FAST work?

By building supportive relationships within families and across communities, FAST helps improve children’s engagement in learning and can have a huge impact on their life chances and wellbeing.

FAST supports families by:  

  • helping children improve their skills in reading, writing and maths – as well as encouraging good behaviour and a positive attitude to school and learning
  • helping parents get more involved in their child’s education, so they can support learning and development at home
  • encouraging stronger bonds between parents and their child, their child’s school, other parents and the wider community.

Delivering success

Our research has shown that after taking part in the FAST programme, children are happier at home and at school, and are more engaged in learning.

Parent-child bonds improve, family conflicts decrease, parents’ involvement in school increases and social support networks develop between parents.

Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, former Secretary of State for Education, says, “I have seen FAST in action. It is a highly impressive, proven programme.”


The history of FAST

FAST was developed in 1988 by Dr. Lynn McDonald, Professor of Social Work Research at Middlesex University (McDonald et al., 1997) and has received numerous awards and honours, including from the United Nations (UNODC, 2010) as a family skills programme, and, in the UK, as an evidence-based parenting programme (C4EO, 2010; NAPP, 2008).

In the US, FAST is recognised by the National Registry of Effective Programmes and Practice (NREPP, 2009), has been cited as an exemplary delinquency prevention programme by OJJDP (2006), and as an effective substance abuse and mental health prevention programme (SAMHSA, 2002 and 2009).

Although FAST was founded in the USA, it brings together local support resources to build protective factors around children which has allowed for the FAST program to run successfully in 18 countries.

Find out more