Our small, dedicated educational charity, Real Action, was founded in 1997 and became a registered charity in 1998. Based in the Queen’s Park ward of Westminster, Real Action was set up by members of the community it serves so as to effectively identify and address the educational needs of a deprived inner-city community, beset by the criminality of child gangs who roamed the Mozart Estate in north Westminster – and were found to be illiterate. The documented, proven, the success of nearly 3,000 primary age children taught to read by our unique, replicable, synthetic phonics Butterfly method since 1999 suggests that educational disadvantage need not result from economic disadvantage.
We have been teaching this at our Saturday schools for fifteen years, helping to support disadvantaged children who would otherwise fall behind their reading ages. As a result of our unique, synthetic phonics method, children's reading ages improve, on average, by 12 months in an average of 20 hours’ Butterfly teaching. Research backs up our findings. The long-term benefits for children, not just in literacy but across the curriculum, who attend our 2-hour, term-time, Saturday morning classes are demonstrated by the findings of the Educational Research Trust 2011 longitudinal research study, Learning to Read, Reading to Learn: “Children who attended The Butterfly School were over 25% more likely to achieve a level 4 or above in Reading, over 35% more likely to do so in English and over 90% more likely to do so across the curriculum than their local peers who had not attended the program. This is suggestive of a very significant effect from The Butterfly School on the academic outcomes of its pupils, as the control group is comprised of children from the same estates, streets, schools and possibly even families as the main cohort.” Our experience with the Butterfly Initiative (funded by the Education Endowment Foundation) when we took Butterfly teaching into secondary schools with low literacy at entry-level increase our concern: many, we found, were initially struggling with three-letter words.The project includes the schools we are already working with, as well as working with the 2 newly- engaged schools. This will bring the total amount of schools we have worked with to 13.