Programme unites families and schools

By by Alan Vincent alan.vincent@iomtoday.co.im Twitter: @iomnewspapers in Education

An award-winning programme that aims to get families and schools working together is expanding on the island.

Families and Schools Together (FAST) invites parents to visit schools and offers them the chance to understand more about what their child is doing at school, be more confident helping with homework, and compare notes with other parents over any issues.

It was successfully piloted in the island by Willaston Primary School in 2015 and two more schools, Ballasalla Primary and Scoill-yn-Jubilee, joined last year.

This year four new schools. Ashley Hill, Henry Bloom Noble, Anagh Coar and Jurby Primary are taking part.

The principal youth officer with the Department of Education and Children, Ken Callister, explained how the programme works.

’Schoolyys and their partners team up to learn how to deliver the programme,’ said Mr Callister.

’They recruit families and delivery two-and-a-half hour sessions, tagged onto the end of the school day, for eight weeks.

’There is a graduation ceremony at the end. Families then take over and develop their own ideas and activities.

’Forty-two families took part in FAST last year. They have described how it has helped them not just as parents but also made them feel more confident in their relationships with schools and forge friendships with other parents.’

A graduation ceremony was recently held at each of the four newly-joined schools.

Mr Callister continued: ’Delivering support to people where needed is one of the government’s guiding principles.

’A child’s success at school is influenced by the support and stimulation provided at home. It’s also influenced by the relationship parents have with their school.

’FAST brings families, schools and the wider community together to help children fulfil their potential.

’It demonstrates how powerful it is when parents work with schools, whether it be simply understanding more about what their child is doing at school, being confident to help with homework or comparing notes with other parents over issues.’

Mr Callister went on to say that the cost of FAST lies mainly in the initial training but once a team for each school is trained, it delivers the programme independently, with refresher training in the fourth year.

FAST was developed by Middlesex University in partnership with the charity Save the Children and runs throughout the world.

It is planned to expand the programme with the assistance of the Manx Lottery Trust and the Youth Trust.

For more on FAST visit www.familiesandschoolstogether.com

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