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 increases our concern: many, we found, were initially struggling with three-letter words.
On a larger scale, the case, the need, for improving our children's literacy has never been clearer. In the latest OECD (Pisa) comparisons of educational achievement in developed countries Britain languishes below the top twenty. We agree with the Butterfly programme's author, the distinguished educationalist Irina Tyk, that if every primary school child were taught the Butterfly way, there would be very few exceptions to the norm of reading age of 8+ attained at the end of the first year of full-time schooling. Our children could be among the best-educated children in the world. Instead, we find that in the secondary schools where we have previously worked over 70% of twelve-year-old have reading levels below reading age ten. These products of primary teaching are not 'secondary school ready'. We have noticed that some secondary school libraries have been re-named 'Literacy Resource Centres' and their English teachers ask us to train them in Butterfly teaching. Literacy levels are the key inhibitor - not the key enabler - of educational enjoyment and achievement.
Our Butterfly achievers tend to go to university.