A SOUTHAMPTON school is celebrating the success of a community-building programme.

For eight weeks, Valentine Primary School in Sholing has been running FAST (Families & Schools Together).

Billed as a chance for children, parents and teachers to get to know each other better it's also aimed at helping children do better at school.

The eight week programme involved a host of activities including games and entertainment with a weekly meal for all 50 people taking part- cooked by just one of the families.

Open to any family in key stage 2 it's the second year staff and volunteers have run the programme, with 18 families taking part both times and 'graduating' in a special ceremony.

Deputy head teacher and programme coordinator Marie Bishop said: "Some of the families have remained close as friends and social stability between the families are now much more certain. Families have even gone on holiday together since being on the course.

"The graduation is a big deal, and showcases to the children that this isn't the only thing they can graduate from. The course has had a lasting effect on them.

"We had three families who even did the course again for the second time and we even have our own songs which families continue to sing.''

Guests at the ceremony included Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith, Cllr Graham Wilkinson and Machelle Joseph from FAST UK.

The ceremony also featured magician Magic Jack and a buffet contributed to by the parents.

The scheme is run by Save the Children and FAST with the school receiving £2,800 to run it.

To 'graduate' families had to attend of six of the eight sessions.

It was offered to any of the 360 pupils in reception, year one or year two with siblings invited too.

The school is planning a third run of the course after the success of the first two years.