Warning: Literacy can damage relationships with your children

Ted Wragg

The Government' best-laid schemes can have disastrous results for the family.

Ted Wragg listened in on one household

I'll tell you what: why don't I hear you read, Jason.

Oh, mum, do I have to?

Miss Scattergood says it will help the school's literacy drive and it should do your reading a bit of good as well. After all, Jason, now that you're six you should soon be taking these SAT thingies, or whatever they're called, so it'll be good practice.

What's a SAT, mum?

It's a test you have to do when you're seven.

And what's a literacy drive? Is it like that place by the house where Dad parks his car?

No, Jason. That's the drive that comes up to our garage. A literacy drive is I well, it'll teach you a lot of new words, like, er ...

Like that drive that Dad said was bloody useless when he came back from golf.

No that was his golf shot, and don't you use language like that in this house.

But you said the school wanted a drive so I could learn a lot of new words.

No, Jason. You see, all the children in Miss Scattergood's class have to do a reading test at the end of the year when they're all seven.

I'm seven in October. Can I do it then? I want to do it before Darren Clark. He's not seven till June, so he's just a big baby.

Now don't you start falling out with Darren Clark again. You all do the test on the same day next May, and ...

That's not fair: Darren's younger than me. I should do it first.

Well never mind that. Now what was I saying? Ah yes. If I hear you read, then Miss Scattergood says it will help you do better and the school will move up the league.

The league. Oo goodie. Can we play football then? Can we play Man United?

No, it's nothing to do with football. Miss Scattergood says that when you read to me I'll be more patient, because I'm your mum and I've only got one child, while she's got 34.

Miss Scattergood shouts a lot.

Well I won't need to shout, because I'll only be hearing you read. Now let's look at this book Miss Scattergood has sent home, "Little Twinky meets the Big Pink Fairy."

It's boring. I don't want to read it. I hate that Little Twinky. He's a wally.

Well I think it looks a very nice book.

It's just boring. Is there a book called "Little Twinky gets eaten by a killer shark?" Now don't be silly Jason. Let's read this nice book and I am sure it will help the school's literacy drive a lot. Look I'll start. "Hello Big Pink Fairy," said Little Twinky. "Hello jolly nice Little Twinky," said the Big Pink Fairy." Go on. You read the next bit.

I don't want to. It's a stupid story.

Well read it anyway. Look it's easy. "Do you want some yummy yummy bread and jam in your tummy wummy?", asked the Big Pink Fairy ...

"No, I want some jilly jelly in my silly belly,", said Little Twinky . ..

It doesn't I say that at all, Jason. Now stop being stupid and read the next bit properly.

You said you wouldn't shout at me because you were my mum. Miss Scattergood shouts at us all the time.

I AM NOT .... I am not shouting. Now I want you to try your best. We must help the school's literacy drive. Your headteacher will get cross if I don't hear you read, and the Government will put me in prison. Read the next page and you can have some sweeties.

Can I have some Star Wars figures instead?

No they're too expensive. All right then, there's no need to cry. If you read a whole page, you can have a Star Wars figure.

If I read two pages, can I have an intergalactic space station as well?

No they cost Pounds 15 I All right, all right, stop crying and read two pages and you can have the intergalactic space station. I don't know how Miss Scattergood copes with 34 of you. I find it bad enough with one.

She shouts a lot.

Just read the book.

Little Twinky - er - went - with - the - Big - Pink - Fairy - to - the - er - lack ...

To the lake. That says "lake", not 'lack'. For goodness' sake, CAN'T YOU READ?

You're shouting, just like Miss Scattergood I "So he pushed the Big Pink Fairy into the lake and she was gobbled up by killer sharks.


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