Parents sit down with children for lessons

Mereside Primary is working with Save the Children on a scheme called FAST to improve skills. It is the first school in Blackpool to follow the programme.

Mereside Primary is working with Save the Children on a scheme called FAST to improve skills. It is the first school in Blackpool to follow the programme.

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GETTING parents more involved in their children’s learning is happening fast at one school, thanks to a project with Save The Children.

Mereside Primary School has signed up to the FAST scheme which stands for Families and Schools Together.

The school asks parents to attend nine weekly after-school sessions to help children improve their reading, writing and maths.

As well as working on basic skills, a big focus is on building parenting ability.

Families, including brothers and sisters, have learned to cook a family meal in sessions and later sit down together to eat it. It also coaches parents to read and play with their children.

The scheme began at Mereside six weeks ago, and the school is already seeing results, according to deputy headteacher Sarah Coldbeck.

She said: “We are the first school in Blackpool to have taken part in the FAST scheme and we’ve had an amazing response.

“Parent volunteers, school and community members have worked hard - it has been a success, and we have 25 families attending weekly sessions.

“In particular, cooking with families has been a great way to get to know them better and positive relationships have been formed between parents and school.

“Children have been really enthusiastic about the scheme and count down the days between sessions as they are so engaged and enthused by the activities.”

Save the Children reported encouraging progress from children whose families take part in FAST schemes.

At least 10 per cent of youngsters placed in the lowest 30 per cent of their class for reading, writing and maths have moved out of this low performing bracket after an eight-week programme.

Some 90 per cent of parents felt they had a better relationship with their child after taking part, and 61 per cent said they wanted to be more closely involved with school life.

Mrs Coldbeck added: “We value the importance of parental links at Mereside. We are lucky to have some fantastic parent volunteers and strong parent governors who have given us an incredible amount of support.

“We feel this will be the start of more fantastic projects between families and school, which will only be of benefit to our local community and our children.”

And children gave the scheme a thumbs up too.

Maddie Dowdesell, seven, said of the class: “I like taking part in the FAST sessions.

“I like playing with my mum at school.”

Supermarket giant Morrisons funded the programme as one of its official charity projects last year.