A Saturday school which has set children from a tough London estate on the path to academic success is being rolled out nationwide after winning praise from Education Secretary Michael Gove.

The Butterfly Saturday Reading School — run by volunteers in a converted shop on the Mozart Estate in Queen’s Park — was set up 15 years ago by musician Roger Diamond, and former local councillor Katie Ivens, to keep children away from gang crime.

More than 2,000 children have since attended, with dozens going on to university. A second school has been opened in Notting Hill and more are planned in deprived areas across Britain.

Joseph Poola, 20, was unable to read when he joined the school aged 8. He now studies computer systems engineering after winning a place at Kent University with three A levels.

He said: “When I was younger I wasn’t interested in learning but the school changed all of that for me. Instead of roaming the streets causing trouble, I was learning to read.

“I could have easily slipped into a life of trouble. I didn’t, thanks to the help I got from Roger and Katie.”

Mr Diamond said: “We got fed up with the number of kids roaming the streets committing petty crime and generally being a nuisance. Children like discipline — in the right context. They realise they need a direction.”

Mrs Ivens added: “The teacher is authority and takes the class standing at the front. Children sit at desks and look at the teacher. Many of them tell their parents they prefer this to their normal school.” The school asks parents for a £5 voluntary donation for each pupil. Every week nearly 100  children come along. Mr Gove said: “I’m a huge admirer. Kate Ivens’s approach to teaching is inspirational and secures great results.”

Article by Simon Freeman, published in The Evening Standard on 10 October 2012