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What People Say About Us

From those shaping educational policy to Real Action’s youngest recruits, people have great things to say about our work.  Read on to find out what they think.

‘Real Action’s work with disadvantaged children is, quite simply, wonderful.  Katie Ivens has done more for some of the most deprived children in the country than anyone I know.  I just wish the (former) Government had had the good sense to learn from her success. As it is, funding is essential if more children are to be helped. Learning to read is the key skill in making anything of your life.  The children Katie and her colleagues at Real Action have been teaching have made phenomenal progress in a very short space of time.  She has rescued them from a likely life of crime and made anything possible for them.’

‘I’m a huge admirer of what Real Action has done. Their approach to teaching reading is inspirational and secures great results…

‘The problem of children leaving school unable to read and write properly is most profound in poorer areas and we urgently need the deployment of tried and tested methods of teaching reading, such as those deployed by Katie Ivens at Real Action, if we are to give every child the best possible start in life…

‘We know that systematic synthetic phonics, the tried and tested method of teaching reading which stresses the importance of getting children to decode words effortlessly is the right approach and the Butterfly school exemplifies the gains that can be made with rigorous application.’

Here are six reasons why I like the Butterfly school:

‘1. I like the Butterfly school because you learn there.’

‘2. The teachers there are nice and kind.’

‘3. When you are new, the children in your class look after you.’

‘4. Nobody is mean to you.’

‘5. People don’t make fun of you.’

‘6. The best part of the Butterfly school is the spelling test.’

‘[The Butterfly Saturday Reading School] is good because you get to learn new words and you get to do stuff that’s fun. The teachers are nice and kind. My favourite books are fairy tales and stories with talking animals.’

‘I think the Butterfly school is a very good place for children because you can read by the help of teachers.

‘It is also good for you because you might be bored at home.

‘I think that the teachers are very kind, helpful and generous.

‘I think children who have no friends could come here because you can make lots of friends.

‘I think it is going to help me in my exams.

‘Reading and work at the Butterfly school has helped me.

‘It has got a café with lovely things to eat.

‘The Butterfly school is a bright place.

‘The Butterfly school is a very quiet place where you can work or read.

‘I like the school because we get to write. My reading’s nice. I like to read super hero stories and ‘Cat in the Hat’.

‘I like the Butterfly school because you learn more: if you don’t know something you can go there and learn it. And you can ask the teacher things after the class.

‘I also like it because you can borrow books to read; I’ve got lots of friends there, and the teachers are very nice.

‘I’ve improved and I’m very pleased about that.

‘I like it because it’s a reading school… I like writing – I wrote a story. I’m making lots of friends.’

‘I learn more things here, I study writing. I started last week and my brother started two weeks ago. He said it’s good. He told me to go and I’ll learn more things.  I learn poetry, apostrophes…’

‘My daughter’s flying ahead. It’s not just what they teach – it’s the way it’s taught. She started two months ago. She’s five, she’s got a reading age of 6 and she’s top of her class at primary school. She really enjoys [the Butterfly school], she picks up books on her own.  They’ve given her technique here, the rules of reading and writing… It would be nice if they put this system into the schools.’

(The names of all children have been changed).

Read more about Butterfly and  our children.


Below are links to blogs and articles written about us by funders, volunteers, and other supporters:



“The results are fantastic! The classes have been going for 14 years and the level of the children’s reading has been improving amazingly. In fact, the children’s reading ages rise by over a year and this is in just 20 hours of Butterfly teaching”.

For the full article, see here.

Tom Pryce Trust “In the 10 years of the Butterfly school’s existence an outstanding record has been established for raising children’s attainment: in an average 30 hours’ teaching children’s reading ages regularly (since 1999) improve by an average 13 months. By-products of the Butterfly programme include noticeable improvements in children’s behaviour; reports of improved attainment at school, often with unexpectedly high SAT test results; removal from Special Needs registers; and raised aspirations… The classes are popular, grow by word of mouth, and are normally over-subscribed: their growth is only constrained by funding limitations”.

For the full article, see here.

KensalRiseQueensPark1 “I was stunned at how quickly the kids grasped letters and sounds that were new  to them. Never before have I seen so many 2B pencils scribbling away in exercise books with such enthusiasm”.

For the full article, see here.

standpoint_logo “The Butterfly School is a demonstrable success. On average, over the 10 years it has been in existence, its students’ reading ages improve by 13 months after 30 hours of teaching. All its teachers are volunteers and Real Action has only three paid members of staff. Mrs Ivens thinks that this small size works best. “The big charities may sometimes forget about the charity. An act of charity is an act of kindness and we should get back to that basic principle.”

For the full article, see here.

Volunteer Centre “Parents come up to me and say, ‘I don’t know what you have done, but I can see a genuine change in my child’”. One of our volunteers, Raja Sahni, speaking about Real Action winning the Volunteer Team award.

For the full article, see here.

The Sunday Times header 13.10.13

“After 30 hours of intensive teaching by the trouble-shooters, who work for the Real Action charity, 12-year-old Grzegorz, who had a reading age of seven in June, has leapt forward two years. He is now reading books intended for nine-year-olds,” writes Sian Griffiths for The Sunday Times on 13th October 2013.

For the full article, see here.




John Lyon Charity “Real Action is an entirely voluntary local initiative that, in the eyes of many parents, now outstrips state provision. The Butterfly Saturday Reading School is very popular, catering to150 primary age children throughout the academic year. The average improvement in a child’s reading age is found to be 14 months in 20 hours of teaching. The children attending the Butterfly Saturday School are being given access to the greatest tool of the modern age: the ability to read”.

For the full article, see here.