An evaluation of the Education Endowment Foundation’s trial of Families and Schools Together (FAST) in the UK, delivered by Save the Children, did not appear to make a difference in children’s achievement, but was found to be an effective mechanism for engaging parents in their children’s early education. FAST was also shown to have a positive impact on children’s social and behavioral outcomes across the whole grade level and not just the children who participated in the program.
FAST is a parental engagement program that aims to support parenting and enhance links between families, schools, and the community. Parents and their children attend eight weekly two-and-a-half-hour group sessions delivered after school by accredited FAST trainers.
The school-level randomized trial measured the impact of FAST for the whole grade level on Key Stage 1 (a standardized assessment of achievement in the UK) reading and arithmetic achievement, and children’s behavioral and prosocial outcomes (measured using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ)). One hundred and fifty eight schools took part in the trial, with a total of 7,027 students across the Year 1 cohort in these schools, and 632 students taking part in the eight-week program.
- The evaluation found no evidence that FAST had an effect on KS1 reading and arithmetic outcomes for the whole grade level (ES= +0.01).
- There was also no evidence that FAST had an impact on KS1 outcomes for the children whose families took part in the eight-week program.
- However, FAST showed some promise on non-academic outcomes, with positive outcomes for the whole year group. Immediately after the eight-week program, Year 1 students in the intervention schools had a higher average prosocial score and a lower average total difficulties score than students in comparison schools. However, these effects diminished by the end of Year 2.
Parents involving in the programme perceived positive outcomes for them, such as enhanced approaches to parenting, new friendships among parents, and confidence to join further activities.
Source (Open Access): Lord, P., Styles, B., Morrison, J., White, R., Andrade, J., Bamford, S., …& Smith, R. (2018). Families and Schools Together (FAST): Evaluation report and executive summary. London: Education Endowment Foundation.