The Butterfly Saturday Reading School is defiantly old-fashioned. The children sit at individual desks, facing the front. They don't chat to each other. They constantly interact with the teacher, answering questions and doing exercises. They work from a textbook with no illustrations, not much colour and long lists of words to learn by heart.
The funny thing is that they love it. The school, in Paddington, West London, gives literacy classes on Saturday mornings to children from the local Mozart Estate, one of the most deprived in the country. It is the flagship project of Real Action, which also runs adult literacy and English language classes.
When I visited the Butterfly School, children really did come running into class and rushed back to it after their break. They paid rapt attention and vied with one another to answer the teacher's questions. Some are as young as five and their feet don't reach the floor in front of their full-sized chairs, used during the week by City of Westminster college students. Some of the older ones, aged 12 or 13, look almost threatening from a distance, dressed in the street uniform of low-slung tracksuit bottoms and hoodies. But they all talk enthusiastically about Butterfly and how it is "better than normal school".