2017
01.02

The Guardian
Tuesday 31 January 2017

Andy McNab says joyless education is damaging poor children’s literacy

Bravo Two Zero author, who didn’t learn to read until he was 16, says his experience working in schools shows that a box-ticking approach to tuition inhibits reading skills of the less privileged

Government literacy policy that emphasises grammar over enjoyment is discriminating against poor children and has contributed to England’s position at the bottom of a ranking of reading ability in developed nations, according to SAS soldier-turned-bestselling writer Andy McNab.

The Bravo Two Zero author, a reading ambassador for the literacy charity the Reading Agency, said children in failing schools were hit by a double whammy because teachers had no time to encourage the enjoyment of reading because their time was taken up “box-ticking” for Ofsted inspections and dealing with students’ basic needs. “The whole educational system is so clogged now that there is no time for teachers to encourage kids, and the enjoyment of reading is lost,” he said.

As a result, he said, children were leaving school with poor literacy and worse. Citing “failing” schools visited as part of his Reading Agency work, he said teachers’ time was taken up addressing the immediate needs of children from deprived backgrounds, who arrived in class dirty and hungry. He added: “By the time they were ready to start learning they had lost a third of the working day, so there was no time for them to just enjoy reading.”

McNab is a regular on the school circuit, and his work promoting literacy was recognised last year with the inaugural Ruth Rendell award. Teachers, he said, were frustrated, because they were being prevented from inspiring students with a passion for learning and reading. “There is so much compulsory stuff in the curriculum that it becomes like ticking boxes,” he added.

McNab, who did not learn to read until he joined the Army at 16, said that while the prescriptive curriculum was not a problem for children who were exposed to books at home, it left those from deprived backgrounds disadvantaged because they had few role models outside school to encourage them to read. “Kids from working-class families are being failed because they don’t come from a middle-class culture where everyone reads,” he said.

His comments come before Thursday’s launch of Quick Reads, a series of six short books..(..)

Go here to read the full article in The Guardian

2015
10.11

Grey Man’s Lands was given the opportunity to give away 5 dedicated copies of Andy McNab’s new Nick Stone novel Detonator. The 5 winning questions of his fans are answered here by Andy and the books are in the mail. Happy reading! Of course we too had a few questions for Andy this time…

Hi Andy,

First we want to congratulate you with your Honorary Doctorate of Arts which you received recently from Plymouth University. What does the acknowledgment of your work mean to you?

Andy: As a kid the only doctors I had ever heard of were the ones you went to in you were ill and Doctor Who. This is a perfect example of social mobility, it doesn’t matter where you come from, you just need to give it a go. As I tell school children and prisoners, if I can do it, anyone can.

You’ll be on a South Pole Trek in support of the Reading Agency soon. Tell us about your motivation and we’re wondering – even though your still fit and healthy, is this still a challenge for you?

Andy: I was invited to join the South Pole Expedition. It was just a bunch of mates to begin with, but I thought why not raise some money for a cause that is close to my heart, the Reading Agency, at the same time!

It will be a challenge, but ultimately even with all the Hi Tec kit and scientifically designed foods, you’ve still got to put one foot in front of the other, really quickly. I find it quite easy to switch off and not think about much, so I think I will be OK. Perhaps you should ask me again when I’ve finished it.

We haven’t got a clue where you find the time to write but the new Nick Stone novel is a fact. What can we expect from Detonator?

Andy: This is Nick Stone at his most exposed, with everything that matters to him at risk. Racing across the Swiss alps and down to southern Italy, Nick is against the clock to save everything he holds dear. It hasn’t got the ending you might expect, just to warn you.

Consider us warned! (and scared??)

Shaking that off for a now….we’ve selected 5 questions from your fans. They’re all very excited getting a dedicated copy of Detonator. On behalf of them, thank you! And we’re hoping they’ll let you know what they think of Nicks latest adventure.

1. Question by Richard Joyce
If you had one decision you could go back and change, what would it be?

Andy: I wouldn’t change a thing, there’s no guarantee anything would be better or worse. The fact is that everything is a punt, why would I change anything, I am doing something different and new. Life is full of lumps of shit, it’s just a question of how much you have to eat on the way.

2. Question by Simon Bunkall
What is your list of the top 5 best E&E items anyone could find in their own home?

Andy:
1) KITCHEN KNIFE – The bigger and sharper the better, for defence and food, and making shelter.
2) BIN LINERS – To use for shelter and for gathering water.
3) 2 LITRE MILK CONTAINERS – For storing and sterilizing water.
4) A WASHING LINE – Erecting shelters and constructing animal traps.
5) A PILLOW – We all need a good night’s sleep!

3. Question by Matthew Rose
Just returned from a backpacking trip in Europe and after riding the regional trains in Italy near Naples it was the most uncomfortable and frightened I’ve been as an adult. My girlfriend and I were confronted numerous times but luckily escaped without any harm. Which area in the World would you be frightened and uneasy to go for fear of being mugged as a tourist?

Andy: It would have to be Colombia purely because you’ve got a society of haves and a society of have nots, and not much in between. It’s also a culture that is naturally violent anyway, and there’s no constructs to dissuade people from doing it. It’s just what goes on.

4. Question by Rick Payne
Having given a very good account of the Op in Gib as an opener to Remote Control are you likely to write a book specifically based upon your various roles in the fight against the IRA once the 30 years are up?

Andy: That’s a good question. The Ireland interest fluctuates hugely. People think it’s far too early to talk about it, or that it’s far too complicated because of all the different factions involved. I did write about the Ireland stuff in Immediate Action, my autobiography. There, got a plug in!
There is film interest in the Gibraltar incident, as I’ve also done a Quick Read, to come out next spring, about it.

5. Question by Kevin Southwell
Having experienced what you have, and could have your time again, would you go for selection again? I also thank you for your time and I wish you a Merry Christmas next month.

Andy: Yes without a doubt. It did two things for me, it kept my army career going (I would have got out if I had failed selection) but more importantly it gave me even more education. The Regiment even sent me to Bristol University for a while.

Thanks as always Andy, we’ll be looking forward to read more about your South Pole adventure and come back safe!
Detonator (Nick Stone 17) is available in hardback and e-book here.

If you would like to support Andy’s South Pole trek to help fight illiteracy take a look here or visit The Reading Agency website to find out more about what they do and to read their latest news.

2015 Andy McNab Reading Journey appeal