Do these books help kids outperform their classmates?

Clever Tykes Books

Parents have reported a profound shift in their children’s attitude towards school and work after reading the Clever Tykes storybooks. Readers of this lesser-known British series – founded, written and printed in Birmingham – are now expected to outperform their classmates in primary school exams.

The Clever Tykes storybooks have sold 100,000 copies in the UK to date and are read by 6-9 year olds who will take their key stage two SATs when they are age 10 or 11. Fans of the stories; Walk-it Willow, Change-it Cho, Code-it Cody and Write-it Ryan have described how they improve the confidence and mindset of their kids ahead of being tested. Mother-of-two Ember noticed that her daughter [Eva]’s attitude “had changed” since reading the books. “She has started putting a lot more effort into everything!”

Awareness has been boosted by the popularity of the Clever Tykes podcast, which interviews entrepreneurs and business leaders about the childhood influences that led to their success. Guests have included Birmingham business faces such as Paul Faulkner, CEO of the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, Jeremy Walker, cofounder of tech platform Exercism and Jessica Wheeler, principal of Elmhurst Dance School in Edgbaston. The next episode is West Midlands Mayor and former John Lewis MD Andy Street, to be released shortly.

Sales of the books, whose topics include entrepreneurship, coding and blogging, are doubling in sales month on month as parents look to broaden their children’s learning beyond the traditional curriculum. Feedback suggests that they inspire the behaviour our schoolchildren need to thrive in an uncertain future: confidence, resourcefulness and creativity. From reader reviews on Amazon, the books are “encouraging kids to stand up for what they believe in”, with one parent noticing they “have given the boys a real boost with their confidence” whilst inspiring them to be “creative, brave and innovative”.

In the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Future Of Jobs report, the Forum cited the top 3 desirable skills for jobs as being: complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. The Forum expects over 5 million jobs to be lost to robotics and automation by 2020. Its 2018 report suggests 54% of all employees will require re-skilling and up-skilling.

Many experts and think tanks have complained the current education system is failing UK schoolchildren. Yvonne Roberts, writing for the Guardian, explains that the Education Act 1944, which our current education system is based on, estimated the country would need 80% manual workers and 20% clerical and professional staff for the post-war industrial economy. This is no longer the case. Technology now rules and different skills are required, including resilience, confidence and adaptability ahead of future change.

Have we found a sure-fire way to equip UK schoolchildren with the drive and self-belief needed to excel in exams and thrive in the future jobs market?