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In the news - Ash Sharma

Mr Sharma, a property developer from Birmingham, has published the Skips series of 11-plus English and maths revision books, which are based on crosswords that he put together with his daughter, Nicole.

Why did you start making the crosswords?

Nicole would always have better things to do than her homework. So I tried to put the fun back into things. Instead of just explaining nouns, adjectives and adverbs, I put them into crosswords.

So it helped you to help her?

Kids come in from school and have their homework on the computer. They put in a password and then do a task. But the problem is, how do parents engage? I'm amazed at the number of parents who relate to my story. It's not that they will read the book and pass an exam, it's about the interaction between parents and children.

Did it work?

Nicole enjoyed the crosswords and wanted to do them. She will read if she is forced to, but she won't just pick up a book. But with the crosswords she started picking up other books to help her finish them off.

What happened next?

I had crosswords on bits of paper and on the computer, so I thought I would get a book printed. One parent showed it to a teacher, who showed it to the local branch of Waterstone's. Waterstone's rang and said they wanted to stock it. They helped me get an ISBN number and they bought 20 books. Those books sold out.

Just English?

I then published a maths book. I had help from 11-plus tutors, who went through the pages for me.

And are you qualified?

I'm not a teacher, just a concerned parent. A lot of parents want to put the fun back in for their kids. People ask if I'm qualified to write the books, but I'm not reinventing the wheel, I'm converting what is taught at school. They are an aid.

Why Skips?

I have twin sons and nephews and they all love football. When they play football, they all refer to each other as Skip. It's a nickname for the kids in our family.

Do you think it will become a phenomenon?

No matter what happens in the future, Nicole can look back and say, that's what we did, me and my dad.

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