Star footballer Anton Ferdinand returned to his former school in Peckham to present families with awards for taking part in a scheme to build and strengthen bonds between parents and their children and increase achievement in deprived areas.
The parents of 38 Camelot Primary School pupils received recognition from the Queen's Park Rangers defender for taking part in Families and Schools Together (FAST) – a universal parenting programme designed by a Professor of Social Work Research at Middlesex University and backed by Save the Children UK.
FAST is an after-school group programme offered to reception year children and their families. It includes structured activities to build relationships and social connections, through a range of parent-led family games and activities which are based on theory and tested with rigorous research.
Professor Lynn McDonald founded FAST in her native USA after seeing a need for an education programme that would address disparities, and help families as well as children in low-income communities.
The programme at Camelot Primary was funded by the supermarket chain Morrisons in an effort to heal the community after the London riots in August 2011.
Middlesex University's Professor Lynn Mcdonald said: "We were delighted to have such an inspirational former Camelot pupil here to support the parents for their achievement of bringing their children to FAST at the ceremony tonight. Anton was fantastic, he told us about how important his parents were when he was younger. It was a great moment for the parents and children involved as well as for the local community of Peckham and for London as a whole.
"FAST supports parents as they practice the skills they need to help bring out the best in their child, empowering them to become more involved in their child's learning and development at school and at home. Children love having their parents come into their classroom and to have the chance to play with them, and that in turn motivates them to pay attention and do better at school."
Sally Copley, Save the Children's Head of Poverty added: "FAST makes a huge difference to the families that take part. By bringing together those key elements in determining a child's success, their school and their family, FAST ensures that children are given the support they need to thrive. This scheme shows that closing the education attainment gap is possible and that is why we want every parent living in a deprived area to be entitled to a FAST scheme."